ZIMBABWE – State owned commodity trading enterprise, Grain Marketing Board has received 1.1 million tonnes in maize deliveries from farmers for the 2018 marketing season as the country moves away from grain imports, reports the Herald.

According to GMB, maize deliveries were expected to reach 1.2 million tonnes given farmers were still selling their commodities to the grain agency.

Higher volumes were encouraged by timely payment to farmers, within a week, and a smooth delivery process through its grain depots located in all maize-producing areas across the country.

“We have received 1,111,809 tonnes of maize from farmers since the beginning of the marketing season on April 1 and are expecting to reach to 1 180 000 tonnes,” said GMB general manager Mr Rockie Mutenha.

“During the same period last year, GMB had received 1,091,349 tonnes of maize. Our maize stock were 1,314,383 tonnes of maize including the Strategic Grain Reserve.”

The grain agency was in the past unable to procure enough grain from farmers as they preferred selling to intermediaries who offered them relatively low prices.

To boost grain collections, GMB resolved to pay farmers early, encouraging direct deliveries to grain depots.

“GMB is buying maize, red sorghum, white sorghum, rapoko and millet at $390 per tonne. The parastatal is also buying soyabeans at US$780 per tonne,” said Mr Mutenha adding that the producer price was meant to benefit genuine farmers.

No more maize imports

More maize in reserves means the country will reduce or scrap importation of grain as it moves towards food self-sufficient.

The Agricultural Marketing Authority had earlier announced that only those who contracted farmers were allowed to buy maize and maize deliveries would be boosted by putting in place more collection depots and recruiting more staff as well.

Increase in maize production in the country has been recorded on the back of Command Agriculture, an agricultural scheme initiated by President Mnangagwa in 2016 aimed at ensuring food security.

The programme lobbies for bank loans and agricultural inputs towards boosting farmer capital as well as productivity in the sector.

It seeks to increase production, meet consumption and export surplus in the long run.