GOVERNMENT has ordered millers to get their maize from the Grain Marketing Board and to pay directly to Treasury, as a way to combat corruption in the buying of maize.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Agriculture minister Joseph Made (pictured) disclosed the new arrangement last week in Senate, as he responded to questions on how government will solve the issue of corruption, where desperate farmers are being short-changed by unscrupulous maize dealers.
Manicaland Senator Keresencia Chabuka had asked Made to explain how the government will address the issue of corrupt practices, where maize being delivered by farmers to GMB is being rejected on the grounds that it is moist.
She said unscrupulous dealers then buy the rejected maize from farmers for a song and later sell it to GMB at the stipulated $390 price.
It is suspected that the dealers connive with GMB officials to reject the maize on grounds of moisture content, but after dealers then buy it outside it finds its way back to GMB and is accepted.
“In the past millers used to buy from farmers, but this season we said they cannot do that and they must get their maize from GMB, but they have to pay directly to Treasury,” Made said.
“However, we know that some GMB workers are turning back maize saying it has failed the 12,5% moisture content test, but if a farmer suspects that it is connected to corruption they must immediately report the issue to the police.”
He said in Mashonaland West some GMB workers were dismissed for such corruption.
He said his ministry has now directed Agritex officers to go into the fields to assess the moisture content of maize and inform farmers on whether their maize will be dry enough for sale to GMB, so that they are not short-changed by dealers.
Harare Metropolitan Senator Theresa Makone said some of the shady deals by dealers were that maize is sold at $220 per tonne to millers, which means there is a $170 subsidy, as GMB pays $390 per tonne to farmers that deliver their maize.
Makone said it is better to subsidise inputs and pay subsidies to farmers in order to curb corruption.
Masvingo Senator Misheck Marava said rural farmers suffered the most because their maize is bought for as little as $2 per bucket and large trucks of dealers have been buying the maize in bulk and re-selling to GMB for $390 per tonne.
Made said GMB has been directed to open satellite depots, so that rural farmers are able to sell their maize at $390 per tonne. He said the government will consider subsidising inputs.