FARMERS who delivered their produce to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) before new prices were announced feel short-changed and now want to be paid the new prices, a demand the government has turned down, businessdigest has learnt.
The government in July this year reviewed the producer prices for maize, traditional grains and soya beans for the 2020/21 marketing season, with the new price of maize pegged at ZW$16 153 while that of traditional grains stood at ZW$16 856.
The government further approved an incentive of 30% on top of the reviewed producer prices, leaving the new price for maize at ZW$21 000 and for the traditional grains at ZW$21 913 per tonne.
However, farmers who spoke to businessdigest said it was not fair for the GMB to pay them using the April prices which were pegged at ZW$12 329,72 per tonne for maize and ZW$12 865,79 for traditional grains, considering the rate of inflation.
"With this high rate of inflation in the country, I don't think it is fair for the GMB to pay us using the old prices. We need to be paid the new prices," a farmer who delivered his maize before the new producer prices were announced, said.
"It seems we are now being punished for delivering our maize early and those who delivered late are now being rewarded. That is not fair. So next season, we might as well hold onto our produce."
But reached for comment on the farmers' request, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos said the prices that were announced at the start of the new agricultural season were in line with a cost build-up that the ministry came up with in consultation with all stakeholders.
"I am sure you will recall that when the producer price was first announced our farmers were extremely happy with the announcement. As time went on it became evident that the original producer price announced at the beginning of the agricultural season was no longer making sense for our farmers," he said.
"One can simply follow the inter-bank rate on the auction system to see that a further review was necessary in order to keep the price viable for our farmers. In the interim an incentive of 30% was offered to our farmers for early delivery."
Haritatos said two weeks ago the ministry proposed a new producer price, which was accepted and was consequently announced to the public.
Again, he said the computation of this new producer price came from a cost build-up of the current cost of inputs plus a mark-up for the farmers in order to keep them viable.
"Our ministry will continuously watch for any market shifts in costs to our farmers and will continue to review prices should the need arise. We will ensure that farming remains viable and attractive to our farmers at all times," Haritatos said.
He encouraged farmers to deliver early in order for them to avoid post-harvest losses which are associated with keeping grain stored in poor conditions for excessive time.
"We are here for our farmers and we encourage farmers' unions to continue coming forward as they have with more and more ideas of how best we can serve our farmers," Haritatos said.