By Patricia Mashiri

The Zimbabwe Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is failing to deliver services to farmers throughout the country. This is evidenced by the late delivery of inputs from the Presidential Scheme that were supposed to have been delivered to the farmers countrywide. The inputs comprise of 10kg maize seed, 50kg Compound D fertilizer, 50 kg Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer, 10 kg soya bean seeds and 5kg small grain seeds.

Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture debating on 23 January 2017 complained that the farmers from various constituencies had not received their Presidential inputs yet the season is half. Seed maize and compound D should have been delivered by now.

“We have noticed that most farmers haven’t received their inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme. It is of great concern that the public is made to do party slogans at the distribution of the inputs.

“The inputs from the Presidential Input Scheme are meant to benefit everyone regardless of political affiliations. Agritex officers should be the ones responsible for the distributions of the inputs since they are the ones who know the farmers. Councillors should be excluded in the act,” said Temba Mliswa, the Member of the House of Assembly for Norton Constituency.

One of the issues raised was that of transport payment which is done by the beneficiaries of the inputs. The MPs complained about the fact that farmers have not been paid yet and are forced to pay as much as $1-$4 per sack.

Rockie Mutenha, the GMB General Manager in his response, said he was not aware that the inputs were being politicised and said he would make an effort to follow up and make things right as everyone has the right to receive the inputs despite political affiliations. He also pointed out some of the strategic issues they are pursuing.

“The grain storage infrastructure development will ensure the safe storage of grain. We will construct hardstands at depots to ensure that the grain is safe from rain damage. A total of $6.3 million has been secured from treasury for this purpose.

“There are also electrical and mechanical rehabilitation works at 12 Silo depots at an estimated cost of $222 295 362.23. Contracts have been signed with the contactors,”Mutenha said.

He added that the development and implementation of the farmer card payment system will achieve efficiencies in the farmer payments systems through the establishment and maintenance of a database of farmers and the management of stop orders for government inputs programmes.

The General Manager also stated that they have mobilised the grain storage resources.

“A total of $36 million was used to procure these grain storage, all grain procured during the current year is stored safely at various depots.The GMB is in the process of procuring Grain Driers to offer grain drying services to farmers. This ensures the grain complies with grain storage standards,”Mutenha said.