ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe has banned the buying and selling of corn between private individuals and companies, and will only allow state owned Grain Marketing Board to be the sole buyer of commodity.

The government has hence gazetted a statutory instrument that has classified maize as a controlled product as it seeks to encourage competition and ensure farmers get the highest price for their commodity.

The new Statutory Instrument controls sale or delivery of maize and also deals with acquisition and disposal of maize, provisions relating to contracted maize.

“Any maize which is required to be sold to the GMB in terms of this section shall be delivered to the GMB at such time, place and quantities as the board may direct and under such terms and conditions as the GMB may please.

“No person who is not a producer of maize or who is not a contractor shall sell maize to the GMB,” part of the Statutory Instrument read.

It indicates that a maize producer will only be permitted to transport not more than five bags of maize of a capacity not exceeding 50 kg per bag within the country upon getting authorisation.

In most cases Zimbabweans have snubbed selling maize to the GMB, accusing the parastatal of underpaying them for their maize which has resulted to the commodity being channelled into neighbouring countries such as Zambia.

The new regulations immediately raised concerns that the controls will create a black market for maize, which will lead to shortages, and that the grain agency will likely sell at subsidised prices at a time when the government has said it wants to remove subsidies in the economy.

The move comes as Zimbabwe said it is expecting to record a significant reduction in corn production following the 2018/19 season that was characterised by the late onset of rains across the country.

According to a second crop and livestock assessment report released by the Ministry of Agriculture, the estimated maize production stands at 776 635 tonnes, which is 54% less than the 1 700 702 tonnes obtained during the 2017/18 season.

Following the decline in production the Grain Marketing Board has unveiled plans to boost corn imports and will float an international tender to import 750 000 tons of the grain.