Harare — GOVERNMENT yesterday made sure the new maize harvest would be delivered to the GMB by raising the producer price of maize from $28 000 to $130 000 a tonne.
And to encourage farmers to plant winter wheat, the pre-planting price of wheat was more than doubled from $70 000 to $150 000 a tonne.
At the commercial exchange rate of $824 to the US$, farmers are receiving roughly world prices for their produce, almost US$160 a tonne for maize and more than US$180 a tonne for wheat.
The moves, which were welcomed by farmers' organisations, are likely to see an increase in the delivery of maize and wheat to the Grain Marketing Board.
This will result in an improvement in the supply of maize and wheat to millers, which will in turn see an improvement in the supply of maize meal and flour to consumers.
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Cde Joseph Made, told journalists in Harare that the pre-planting price of wheat would be reviewed at the beginning of the marketing season for the winter crop in September.
He said there would be no change in the GMB's selling price to millers and that this was the Government's way of subsidising consumers.
The GMB will continue selling maize to millers at $9 600 a tonne and wheat at $29 500 a tonne.
"The intention is to contain the price of flour, maize-meal and bread so that it is affordable to consumers," said Cde Made.
The new producer price of maize would also apply to sorghum and millet to encourage farmers to grow more of these small grains.
"These small grains contribute significantly to food security, particularly in the drier parts of the country," said Cde Made.
"This will encourage producers to exploit the relative comparative advantages that exist in the production of these commodities, while at the same time enhancing food security."
Cde Made said the new prices would put agriculture on a firm footing in line with the requirements of the recently launched National Economic Revival Programme.
He said the Government would continue tightening statutory instruments that made maize and wheat specified products.
"Stringent measures will be taken against farmers, institutions, individuals, companies traders and non-governmental organisations in violation of these provisions," said Cde Made.
"Government's objective remains very clear - it is to have basic food items derived from grains, maize and wheat available to every Zimbabwean."
Stakeholders in the farming sector yesterday said they were excited by the new prices that would ensure farmers deliver more products to the GMB.
"We are very happy with the new prices," said Zimbabwe Farmers' Union president Mr Silas Hungwe.
"But the GMB must ensure they set up more collection points near the farmers to prevent dealings with unscrupulous people."
Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union president Davison Mugabe said the prices would help new farmers invest in equipment.
"Our members are going to produce more," he said. "We are happy at the timing of this increase just at the beginning of the marketing season."
Commercial Farmers Union representative Mr George Hutchison said the new prices were encouraging and would result in farmers delivering more to GMB.
Agribank chief executive Mr Taka Mutunhu said a recent research carried out by the bank revealed the farmers' major handicap was low producer prices.
He said the situation would change with the new prices.
Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company general manager Mr Richard Masvaire said the new prices would ensure farmers afford inputs.
"We hope the gazetted prices of fertilisers will be reviewed in line with this development," he said.
GMB acting chief executive Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Muvhuti said they would turn grain distribution points into collection centres in anticipation of increased maize delivery.
"We urge farmers' unions to educate their members on the need to support the Government by bringing grain to depots," said Lt Col Muvhuti.