ZIMBABWE – Government has so far paid close to $400 million to farmers after they delivered 1,1 million tonnes of maize to the Grain Marketing Board.

This comes after Treasury upped weekly disbursements to GMB to about $40 million to farmers every week to boost farmers’ preparations for the 2017 /2018 summer cropping season.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Crop production) Deputy Minister Davis Marapira said: “Farmers have so far delivered over 1,1 million tonnes of maize to GMB with most of them having received their money through their bank accounts and some through mobile payment platforms.

“Treasury has released an amount of around $400 million for all the grain deliveries so far. There has been an improvement from last year to this year in terms of payments and deliveries.

We have so far received this substantial amount (1,1 million tonnes against close to 400 000 for the same period last year),” said Deputy Minister Marapira.

GMB is transferring money into farmers’ accounts within two to three weeks of delivering grain. This is a notable progression from previous years when payment would take months.

As a result of the effective payment system, many farmers have already started preparing for the forthcoming season. Buoyed by the success of 2016-17 season, $334 million was set aside for the 2017-2018 Command Agriculture Scheme.

Deputy Minister Marapira said GMB has extended its payment to soya beans and other small grain crops like sorghum, rapoko, cowpeas, sunflower and groundnuts.

The small grain farmers and soyabean farmers have been paid around $18 million and $15 million.

Deputy Minister Marapira is lobbying for more farmers and concerns to help in localised production to save the much needed foreign currency and increase productivity.

He also refuted claims by some quarters of the media that despite the claimed bumper harvest Government is still importing a great deal of maize from other countries.

He said instead if there are maize imports coming, it may be some maize which could have been bought around January or February before the import ban.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said the majority of farmers delivering their crop were being paid within the stipulated time.

“We would like to commend the GMB for the job well done and farmers are generally happy with the payments. There are some few instances where some farmers don’t receive their payments in time due to wrongly filled information and some small mistakes,” said Mr Chabikwa.

GMB was engaged to attend to all the queries and promised to solve them. The country is targeting 1,8 million tonnes of maize for both human and livestock consumption this year.

The Herald