Loughty Dube/Leslie Moyo
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has not provided the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) with funds to buy wheat from farmers, a situation that will impact
negatively on deliveries to depots throughout the country.
The RBZ has been funding grain purchases through the GMB but the latest delay in the disbursements of funds means that bread shortages currently dogging the country might persist as farmers withhold their wheat.
GMB acting chief executive officer, Samuel Muvuti, confirmed this week that they had not received any cash from government and the RBZ to pay farmers who have delivered their crop.
“We have so far received 2 000 tonnes of wheat and are waiting for more deliveries from farmers still harvesting their crop,” said Muvuti.
“The farmers have not yet been paid as government is still working on that. We will begin the payments once we receive the money.”
He could not be drawn to reveal how much the parastatal would need to pay for the wheat harvest.
“We are still working on estimates, we will be getting some money from the RBZ, the government and other financial institutions and after that we will be able to buy wheat and pay farmers on the spot,” Muvuti said.
The statements by Muvuti however fly in the face of those from Agriculture minister, Joseph Made, who has told farmers that they should get paid for their grain upon delivery of crops to the GMB. Government policy on agriculture has led to a serious decline in production.
Recently a report of the portfolio committee on Lands, Land Reform, Resettlement and Agriculture on the State of Preparedness by the Agricultural sector for the 2006/7 summer crop season, has revealed that the country will register a poor harvest unless government moves with speed to import fertiliser, fuel and spare parts.
The government said this year’s winter projections were for 222 000 tonnes of wheat from 60 000 hectares under cultivation.
The government in August increased the producer price of wheat from $9 000 to $217 913 a tonne.
Farmers who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week said they were facing a crisis as they needed the cash urgently so that they can buy inputs and implements in time for the summer crop.
“We supplied GMB with wheat a long time ago but they have not paid us as they allege that they have no money. We need to buy inputs like fertiliser and seed before the summer planting begins,” said a wheat farmer from Nyamandlovu.