Maize price worries MPs

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BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Legislators have called on government to consider paying maize farmers in foreign currency.

Speaking in Parliament, Hurungwe East legislator Takundwa Masenda said it was important for government to ensure that maize farmers got a real deal because they were committing themselves to feeding the nation.

“My point of national interest is centred on the production and sale of agricultural products with particular reference on the production of maize,” Masenda said.

“I feel maize being our staple food is not being given the priority it deserves in terms of the buying price being offered to the farmers. The buying price for maize as it stands now is US$90 plus RTGS75 000 per tonne of maize, which translates to US$90 plus US$75 having converted the RTGS component to United States dollars using the parallel market rate which now stands at US$1 to RTGS1 000,” the legislator
added.

Zimbabwe’s crop marketing season has begun, and as in many years before, the issue of what government, through the Grain Marketing Board, will pay farmers have returned to the spotlight.

Most of farmers’ concerns stem out of the erosion of the domestic currency, which has been hit by high inflation and exchange rate fragilities.

Masenda said viability of farming as a business was being affected by challenges being faced by farmers in accessing cheaper foreign  from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency auction system.

“I have had to use the parallel market rate because most farmers do not have access to the foreign currency auction system that operates under the Reserve Bank. It, therefore, means that the farmer can only buy two bags of Compound D after having sold one tonne of maize. To grow one hectare of maize, a farmer requires 350kg or seven bags of Compound D and another seven bags of AN (ammonium nitrate) per hectare,” the legislator noted.

“Producing maize is no longer viable and not sustainable to the farmer. To explain clearly, the authorities (must) consider paying maize or pegging the price in United States dollars as we have embraced the multi-currency system. I, therefore, propose that the buying price be pegged in US dollars, with US$90 being paid in hard currency as our economy has embraced a multi-currency system and the balance being paid in RTGS at the bank rate of the day,” Masenda told the august House.

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