Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Grain deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board have surpassed 58 000 tonnes owing to the improvements in the payment system.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said he did not expect such deliveries considering the drought that affected crops countrywide.
Treasury has released nearly $20 million towards payment of maize farmers who have delivered their crop to the GMB depots.
Dr Made said these payments would go a long way in assisting farmers to mobilise inputs, especially those who planted wheat, as they be will be able to buy top dressing fertilisers with the proceeds.
Dr Made applauded farmers for expressing confidence in the Government by delivering their maize to the GMB and said this would assist in alleviating hunger in drought stricken areas.
“We will ensure GMB continues to pay farmers early and we are working with Treasury so that farmers can be paid within a week. We used to pay within two weeks but our aim is to reduce the period to one week. This will give confidence to our farmers to deliver their maize and it will be send to areas with food deficit.
“Farmers are busy harvesting and we anticipate more maize deliveries,” he said.
Dr Made warned GMB against delaying payments to farmers and urged farmers to continue delivering their crop especially now as the country moves into the fire season.
“We do not want farmers to expose their maize to veld fires. It is also during this time of the year that we may have some drizzle and this will impact negatively on the crop.
“I noted with concern that GMB was paying small grain producers less than what is paid for maize. Small grains and maize should be paid at the same rate and all crops being handled by Government would be handled in the same way in terms of timely payments,” he said.
Dr Made said GMB will continue to pay farmers early to encourage production of grains.