By Renson Gasela
THE decision by government to collect undelivered maize cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.
The Herald, on September 4, reports secretary for Lands and Agriculture Simon Pazvakavambwa as having told the parliamentary portfolio com
mittee on Lands, Agriculture, Resettlement and Rural Resources and Water that there was a lot of maize that was still to be collected.
He is said to have told the committee that the Grain Marketing Board (GMB)’s intelligence section had been dispatched to establish the actual situation on the ground.
“What we are simply trying to avoid is the situation like what happened last year in which we sent trucks but some of them came back empty,” he was quoted as saying.
There are several issues that arise from this very bad government action.
Firstly, there is clear contradiction in Pazvakavambwa’s evidence to the committee. He says there was a lot of maize but then says they are sending intelligence teams to ostensibly ascertain that there is, in fact, a lot of maize. Who told the GMB that there was a lot of maize?
The second point is the term “collect undelivered maize”. Whose maize is it?
Farmers surely grow maize for their own use and sell surplus. How does government simply collect somebody’s maize because it has not been delivered?
I buy my own inputs, grow maize and government decides to “collect” it?
There is a shortage of mealie-meal as reported by the Herald on September 5. Why not allow Blue Ribbon Foods and other millers to go and buy maize directly from the farmers?
The GMB has no money to pay the farmers; so government decides to “collect”. Such callous behaviour can only be done by a government that is completely uncaring.
Thirdly, all this confirms what we have said all along — that only about 800 000 tonnes of maize was produced this year and that the GMB will not buy more than 300 000 tonnes.
We have been told that production this year is 1,8 million tonnes. If that kind of maize had been produced there would be queues and queues of trucks delivering to GMB depots.
* Renson Gasela is MDC secretary for lands and agriculture.