Maize Buyers To Be Arrested
24 May 2021

The grain Marketing Board (GMB) has paid $2,89 billion covering all farmers who delivered grain to its depots throughout the country with Government saying private buying of maize is illegal and those found doing so will be prosecuted.

The country has recorded a grain surplus this past summer cropping season and Government has since stopped grain imports and the move will save the country about US$300 million annually.

More than 56 000 tonnes of maize have been received and the total grain tonnage delivered to the GMB including other crops is more than 65 000 tonnes.

GMB chief executive officer Mr Rockie Mutenha told Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement officials who included the Minister Dr Anxious Masuka and Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ministers during a meeting held at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre on Friday that grain deliveries had surpassed what they received during the same period last year.

Dr Masuka chaired the proceedings where heads of parastatals and agriculture linked institutions within the agricultural sector explained to Provincial Affairs Ministers how they were contributing to the transformation of the country’s economy.

Mr Mutenha said farmers are receiving payments within a week of delivery.

“As of yesterday, we had received 65 545 tonnes of grain and of that 56 496 was maize which is 87 percent and the balance is distributed between the traditional grains, soyabeans and so on.”

“At the same time last year, we had received just 18 000 tonnes. We had projected that in May we would have received 45 000 tonnes of maize but it would appear that in May we will instead hit 60 000 tonnes.

“The performance is very good and on a daily basis we are receiving about 4 000 tonnes of grain,” said Mr Mutenha.

“The value of the crop that we have received is $2,89 billion and we have managed to pay for all the deliveries that have been made. From Treasury we received $2 billion and we are on course in terms of farmer payments. We are managing to pay within the stipulated time that we promised farmers. We are paying within one week and to achieve this we made sure that all our 87 depots are fully functional.”

Mr Mutenha warned private players against buying maize saying those found will be charged with theft.

Government in 2019 enacted Statutory Instrument Statutory 145 of 2019 which criminalises the private sale of maize and soya beans.

“The banning of private maize and soya sales is meant to protect the contractors who provide finance to farmers. We need to protect their investment against unscrupulous buyers of either soya beans or maize. We also need sanity and order in the sector. This is why we have these instruments. The instruments are very clear. What it means is that for example the only buyer of maize would be GMB or a contractor,” he said.

Mr Mutenha said anyone else would not be allowed to buy because it’s now a protected crop in terms of the instrument. He said the provisions of the instrument are such violaters will be fined up to three times the value of the crop that would have been sold or bought because they would be stealing from someone who has been contracted or from Government.

He said Government finances the agriculture sector together with some private players and they need to be protected.

Minister Masuka said Government is the biggest financier of agriculture through schemes such as the Presidential Input Scheme.

He said the Statutory Instruments in place are meant to promote the agriculture sector and transform the sector in line with the country’s development thrust.

“It therefore means that if a farmer has received some form of financing either through the Presidential Inputs Scheme or through a contractor, they must honour the contractual obligations. For the first time the Presidential input scheme has generated a contract form so the 2,4 million farmers that participated in the Presidential Input Scheme should have signed a contract form that says the surplus must be delivered to GMB,” he said.

Minister Masuka said in the coming seasons farmers who receive inputs from Government would be made to sign contracts.

“The Presidential Input Scheme provided soya beans, groundnuts and sorghum so my expectation is that anything grown under that and where a surplus is generated, it should be directed to the GMB. Honourable ministers this is what we need to embrace the Presidential Input Scheme meant to uplift our communities.

“Government has created an environment for the upliftment of agriculture by putting a Statutory Instrument that protects these communal farmers from middlemen who come and say you have a surplus so there is no need to deliver to the GMB and are paid a substandard market price,” said Minister Masuka. –Chronicle