By Elvis Dumba
Harare – The government has claimed massive side-marketing of grains especially maize and soybeans as evidenced by low deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) – a situation that prompted corrective measures against the problem.
According to Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary John Basera, about 30 000 metric tonnes of grain have been harvested since the beginning of the grain buying season on 1 April 2022 whist only 5000 metric tonnes have been delivered to the national grain buyer, Grain Marketing Board depots.
In a letter dated 24 May 2022 to the Grain Marketing Board Chief Executive Officer, R. Mutenha, Basera urged the GMB to immediately enforce Statutory Instrument (SI) 145 of 2019 which allows GMB to carry out grain busting operations at non-GMB depots. The SI also calls for the setting up of grain permit checkpoints including roadblocks to enforce deliveries of grain to GMB. The security sector, through the Joint Operation Committee (JOC has also been roped in to help in the enforcement of the law.
The Statutory Instrument which was gazetted in 2019 makes it a criminal offense for anyone to trade in grain without a permit.
Meanwhile, unscrupulous grain buyers have set up buying points in various communities with farmers preferring to sell their grain to them due to cash payment incentives.
“I’m not taking my grain to GMB. Last year, I got my money late. It had lost value due to inflation of the local currency that the GMB was paying. The value of the local currency will be eroded before I purchase inputs for the next season so it’s better I sell my maize to people who are paying me in hard currency. In that case, I also don’t have to worry about transport as the buyer is coming to my place,” Isaac’s Gombe of Dete said.
The government said GMB will pay for the grain using a thirty percent forex incentive through the farmers’ Nostro accounts. The remainder of the money to be paid in local currency will be deposited into farmers’ bank accounts or mobile wallets using the prevailing exchange rate on the day of delivering the grain.