Traditional leaders have appealed to the Government to speed up payments to farmers for maize delivered to the Grain Marketing Board as part of measures to prevent illegal side marketing which often sees farmers being fleeced.
The illegal buyers offer instant cash and collect the grain from the farm gate, and there are no deductions for inputs although these have to be paid at some stage, but Chief Chireya of Gokwe North has noted that this convenience comes at a price: the farmers are paid half of what the GMB pays.
Government warned unscrupulous business people fleecing farmers by offering low prices for maize and buying the crop they did not finance, to desist from the activity as the state will take punitive action against them.
Chief Chireya of Gokwe North said farmers need to be protected to get full value for their crop. He said unscrupulous buyers are paying villagers $US2 a bucket of maize yet Grain Marketing board is paying US$4 for the same quantity.
"We produced enough maize this season but we are appealing for the Government to intervene since most of the farmers are selling their crops to unscrupulous businessman who are underpaying them. GMB is paying much better than these people," he said.
Zimbabwe is expecting a total harvest of 2,8 million tonnes of maize and 360 000 of traditional grains from the past season as a result of good rains, with around half likely to be kept back by producers for their own family and farm needs and the rest sold to GMB. The high yields have been attributed to Government's inputs programmes such as Command Agriculture and Presidential Inputs Support Scheme, the farmers' hard work and good rains the country received during 2020 to 2021 season.
Besides seeing a lot of money flow into rural areas with more than a million families now converted from subsistence farming to businesses, the schemes and the resulting good harvest also bring Zimbabwe into self-sufficiency for grains. The good harvest realised by the country is expected to slash the import bill by US$300million.
The bumper harvest this year is also expected to drive increased poultry production as it means improved availability and competitive pricing of stock feed which is a major input for poultry farming.
Agriculture and mining sectors were expected to collectively contribute US$20 billion to the economy in a few years' time and could be regarded as twins, being the two primary producers.