BY AMOS BATISAYI
FARMERS in Gokwe have raised complaints over delays in payment for grain delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), saying this has affected preparations for the coming farming season.
Farmers told Southern Eye that they delivered grain to GMB buying points in June, but are still to be paid.
They are worried that the delay will result in erosion of their dues.
This is despite government’s assurance that GMB will pay farmers within 72 hours of grain delivery.
Everisto Mazhandu, a farmer from Sengwa Bridge under Chief Sayi in Gokwe said: “I am demoralised to sell my grain to GMB because I have not been paid my money since delivering my grain in June.
“I cannot buy agricultural inputs in preparation for the 2021-22 farming season.
“When l delivered my grain, I was promised that I would be paid within 72 hours, but it has turned out to be months.”
Another farmer, Silas Mazhakata from Masakadza area said late payments were crippling preparations for the upcoming season.
“Those that sold their produce to middlemen have since done something notable with their money, while we are still waiting for payment which we are not sure when it will come,” Mazhakata said.
A fortnight ago, Lands minister Anxious Masuka was grilled by Parliament over GMB’s late payments.
Masuka said government was doing everything in its power to pay the farmers.
“Compared to last season, government has done exceedingly well, and we urge farmers to be more patient.
“When government announced a policy that those farmers delivering their grain to GMB depots will be paid within 72 hours, and that those that will deliver to collection points will be paid within five days, that policy has not changed.
“This was meant to entice and motivate farmers to deliver their grain,” Masuka told MPs.
In March this year, government announced the maize producer price of $32 000 per tonne, with Finance minister Mthuli Ncube pledging to provide $60 billion to GMB to enable the parastatal to pay for this year’s grain deliveries.
As at August 2, 2021, a total of 629 007mt of maize and 64 798mt of traditional grains had been delivered to GMB, which has 87 depots and several buying points dotted around the country.
Zimbabwe is expecting delivery of more than 3,1 million metric tonnes of maize this season.
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