LAST month the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) released a statement which partly read: “The GMB wishes to advise all farmers that maize, soyabeans, wheat and barley are controlled products . . . Trading in controlled products (buying or selling) without authority of the GMB is an offence. All storers, millers, stockfeeders and any other users of controlled products are required to register with the GMB before engaging in such business. . . Those found in breach of the regulations risk prosecution, forfeiture of the grains and a fine three times the selling price of the controlled product.”
Fast forward to today, government has opened the floodgates for the importation by individuals of maize meal, among a long list of commodities.
Knowing how porous and corrupted our border systems are, how is GMB going to distinguish the locally-grown maize from foreign maize because one thing for sure is imported grain will soon find its way into GMB depots?
Given past experience, it is not far-fetched to say that imported grain will find its way into our silos by hook and crook.
Why are we importing maize meal in the first place when we boasted of a bumper harvest only last year? What happened to all that grain that was supposed to fill our silos to the brim?
Do we still have a grain reserve in this country?
Things happening in this country are unprecedented. And all this because of a power-hungry government.
The grain situation in Zimbabwe simply speaks to a government that lacks seriousness in terms of food security. It speaks to a government that is quick and keen to demonstrate its power on anything and everyone, notwithstanding the consequences to the nation’s well-being.
Zimbabwe has everything it takes to be completely self-reliant in terms of staple maize supply, but instead of empowering farmers to produce food the government has been busy crafting laws to control an unavailable commodity.
If government made sure that farmers were properly paid for their efforts in producing maize the country would not be importing. Government would not even be bothered to control the buying and selling of maize because it would be in abundance such that Zimbabwe would actually be exporting the commodity and earning the much-need foreign currency.
But no, government would rather spend time exercising its powers.
And at the end of the day Zimbabwe has become a laughing stock because of its stupid policies that contradict each other at every turn.
Past support to grain farmers has been too little and entangled by too many political strings that it has been nothing but a serious and unnecessary drain on the fiscus.
If farmers had titles to their pieces of land, be it in rural and commercial farming areas they would be more productive than they are today.
But no, government wants to control everything including the land.
It comes as no surprise that the country is always hungry. There is no incentive or reason for anyone to break their backs farming.