The government of Zimbabwe has set aside US $630m for local grain purchases and logistics. This is to augment the 852 000 tonnes anticipated from the 2018/2019 grain yield, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said.
Prof Ncube further added that in a bid to incentivize farmers to deliver, the government has reviewed maize producer prices upwards from US $726 per tonne set earlier. Furthermore, GMB has also opened additional collection points in various provinces of the country to enhance grain mobilization and reduce transport costs to the farmer.
According to media reports, the government has gazetted a Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019 classifying maize as a controlled product. This means farmers are now only selling maize to GMB or their contractors.
The grain marketing season started on April 1, 2019 with an expected output of 852 000 tonnes from both maize and small grain, which is significantly below the annual national requirements of approximately 1.8m tonnes required for human consumption.
Last week, the Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri defended the move to restrict the buying and selling of maize as it allowed consumers to access grain at affordable prices.
He explained that easy access to the maize will result in hoarding. He gave an example to the present situation with the bread; bakers, instead of producing bread, they are producing confectioneries because they get much more from selling confectioneries. As such, the little bread that is baked is availed to consumers through the black market at very exorbitant prices. Minister Shiri said they have allowed people to buy up to five bags for domestic consumption.