The cash-strapped Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has paid a total of US$18,6 million for close to 48 000 metric tonnes of maize delivered as of mid-August, bringing relief to farmers after conflicting messages by government ministers on the parastatal’s ability to pay.
GMB corporate communications manager Muriel Zemura told the Zimbabwe Independent they have so far received a total of 109 110 metric tonnes for the current farming season.
Zemura said they were left with a balance of US$23,4 million for 61 274,1 metric tonnes delivered by the farmers.
She said of the amount they had paid, US$3,8 million has been distributed to post offices countrywide for maize delivery payments to farmers who do not have bank accounts.
The government set the buying price for maize at US$390 a tonne.
Agriculture deputy minister Paddy Zhanda told the House of Assembly earlier this year that the parastatal had to date not been allocated funds to procure maize due to financial constraints.
He added that the GMB was “the buyer of last resort”, a surprising departure from government’s insistence that all maize should be sold to the parastatal.
Barely a week later, Agriculture minister Joseph Made dismissed Zhanda’s remarks saying the GMB is not a buyer of last resort, but had been tasked by government to buy maize as it relates to the strategic grain reserve, which requires 500 000 metric tonnes annually.