Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) employees could be involved in a scandal in which they reject grain on the grounds of high moisture content to force farmers to sell at low prices to their accomplices, who operate outside the depots.
Some farmers claim that they have watched their rejected grain being resold on the same day to the GMB by the middlemen.
This came to light following an incident at GMB’s Chinhoyi depot where a soyabeans farmer, who is an agronomist, had his crop rejected, but was certified by a private buyer as having the correct moisture content required by the GMB.
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Operations at GMB depots were topical at a Zanu-PF meeting yesterday where it was felt that farmers were being shortchanged.
It was noted at the meeting that the behaviour of GMB employees, if proved to be true, could derail the results of Command Agriculture that could end up benefiting the middlemen.
The Chinhoyi farmer, Mr Stephen Musasa, said he was referred to the private buyer, Steel Base, by a GMB employee who had rejected his crop.
The soyabeans was rejected for having a test density of 67 percent against the required 70 per- cent.
Within two hours, the farmer went to Steel Base in Chinhoyi which presses soyabeans for oil.
The same soyabeans was found to have a test density of 70 percent.
This brings into question the system that is being used by GMB to determine the quality of grain and other crops which have seen most farmers crying foul.
Mr Musasa said he felt the process was not transparent.
Farmers suspect connivance between some GMB workers and private buyers.
A tonne of soya beans is going for $500 at GMB, but is being bought for $400 at Steel Base in Chinhoyi.
“I took the soyabeans to GMB Chinhoyi depot and it was rejected for having a lower test density of 67 percent against 70 percent which they required,” said Mr Musasa.
He said an employee at the depot suggested that he takes his soyabeans to the private buyer.
The same outcry is also coming from maize farmers who allege that their grain is being rejected for having high moisture content, forcing them to sell to buyers outside the depots.
A tonne of maize is going for $390 at the GMB, but middlemen are buying it for as little as $150 per tonne.
Receipts in possession of The Herald show that Mr Musasa delivered two tonnes of soyabeans on June 22.
He said samples were taken before the weighbridge and within minutes the GMB employee came back saying the soyabeans had excess extraneous matter, but that was not included in the final report.
Mr Musasa, ironically, is a post-harvest specialist lecturer at the Chinhoyi University of Technology.
He questioned how the test density had changed within two hours to meet the required levels.
There have been questions about the calibration of the machines to ensure that the right quality is accepted, while poor quality crops are rejected.
At the Zanu-PF meeting in Chinhoyi, provincial youth chairman Cde Tawanda Rupiya called on Government to intervene, as most farmers were being ripped off.
“We continue to get worried with what is happening at GMB where grain is being rejected because it has high moisture content and yet the same grain is bought by middlemen outside GMB depots and resold the same day at the GMB depot,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from GMB were fruitless last night.