Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent
Government has released $14,5 million to the Grain Marketing Board, effectively clearing all outstanding 2014-15 marketing season payments. In the past three months, Government had released about $54,5 million to enable the farmers to adequately prepare for the forthcoming season.
Part of the disbursed money, GMB chairman Mr Charles Chikaura said yesterday, would be used to cover payments for grain delivered during the 2015-16 grain marketing season.
This comes amid revelations that some farmers have no bank accounts, resulting in more than $480 000 lying idle at various GMB depots countrywide.
“As at today’s date (yesterday) a total amount of $11 007 255 had been paid to farmers’ respective bank accounts while the balance of $3 492 744 is at our depots in cash and will be paid to farmers without bank accounts,” Mr Chikaura.
“Farmers are urged to visit their depots to collect their payments. These payments effectively clear all outstanding farmer payments for the 2014-15 marketing season and any farmer who delivered grain during that marketing season and has not been paid should immediately contact the GMB corporate communications department or report to their respective depot managers who are under instruction to forward all such queries to the GMB head office for immediate attention.”
Farmers need the money to buy inputs with seed houses having indicated that there was slow uptake of the seeds from the farmers due to cash constraints.
Mr Chikaura said a substantial amount of money remained uncollected because farmers had no bank accounts.
The situation, he said, was more prevalent at depots in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces.
“It is also evident that some farmers without bank accounts are not collecting their payments at depots where they delivered their grain,” he said.
“As at today’s date, GMB depots countrywide are holding a total of $480 158 in uncollected farmer cash payments from previous disbursements dating back to August 2015. Accordingly, farmers without bank accounts who delivered grain in the previous marketing season and have not been paid are urged to visit their respective depots to collect their payments.”
Mr Chikaura said any queries related to payments effected through bank transfers should be directed to the respective depot managers or the GMB hotline telephone line04-701898 or emailed to [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>.
“Farmers are also advised that Government has put in place a financing plan to clear outstanding farmer payments for the current marketing season 2015-16,” he said.
“The plan is already being implemented through the GMB and outstanding payments are expected to be cleared as soon as pos- sible.”
Despite challenges in non-payment, farmers have continued delivering maize to the GMB with more than 26 950 tonnes having been delivered to the national silo this year.
Government is this year planning to assist 300 000 vulnerable households through inputs support schemes at a cost of $28 million.
The inputs support package will comprise a 10kg bag of maize seed, a 50kg bag of Compound D and a bag of Ammonium Nitrate for top dressing fertilisers.
Government is also working on arrangements to bring in private sector participation in agriculture financing while it focuses on supporting vulnerable household farmers through an input pack scheme.