ZIMBABWE – The Grain Marketing Board of Zimbabwe has urged farmers to deliver their grains to the nearest depots instead of using middlemen who have benefited from producer price in the stead of farmers, the Herald has reported.

The board said only the parastatal and legal contractors were mandated to buy grain from farmers and it was illegal for middlemen to do so.

The middlemen are accused of buying grain from farmers at prices as low as US$180 per tonne then sell to the board where prices are lucrative (US$390 per tonne).

In addition to higher prices, GMB is said to be offering payments within a short time and these middlemen need only to deliver the grains for easy payments.

“We are discouraging farmers from selling maize to middlemen because it’s not necessary.

This time we are paying within three to four days so it is not necessary for the farmer to sell to middlemen.

“He must just deliver to GMB and we pay the farmer US$390.

If he sells to middlemen where he is short changed and sometimes get as little as US$180.

The middlemen will benefit the extra US$210 and yet all he has done is just to buy from the farmers and deliver to the GMB and yet the farmer has taken the whole year, buying inputs, planting, weeding, pest control and harvesting among other operations,” said GMB general manager Rockie Mutenha in an interview.

He added that they are opening some collection points to ease the transportation costs.

Illegal procurement

At the beginning of the grain marketing season, the Agricultural Marketing Authority warned against uncontracted dealers and that only those registered with AMA with trading license were allowed to buy grain.

AMA also announced in April that the suspension of private buyers which it had instituted earlier was still operational.

Thus, only GMB and registered licensed contractors who financed production are allowed to purchase maize from farmers.

Last year, the government barred millers from buying maize directly from farmers in a bid to protect farmers from private buyers who usually offer unviable prices and later sell the m to GMB for a profit.

Input by the government through programmes such as Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme has seen maize production on the rise.

Farmers delivered 1.5 million tonnes of maize to the GMB depots last season.