THE Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) has criticised the recently announced maize producer price of $378,68 per metric tonne by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as uncompetitive and unsustainable.
CFU president Charles Taffs told Southern Eye Business that the new price of $378,68 per metric tonne was far above the current market price of $340 per metric tonne and as such was not competitive, describing it as unsustainable.
GMB recently increased the maize producer price to $378,68 per metric tonne up from last season’s $295, representing a 28% rise.
Taffs, however, said the increase was only a ploy by the GMB to win back farmers’ trust, adding that he doubted if the parastatal would manage to cash out such an amount.
“Maize prices must be related to market prices,” Taffs said.
“The market is currently buying from farmers at $340 per tonne and GMB is offering $378. This is not sustainable and I doubt if GMB will afford to pay such an amount” he added.
GMB has in the past failed to pay for maize deliveries on time blaming Treasury for delaying to release funds for payments of grain. The new increase comes at a time when maize farmers have been reluctant to sell their grain to GMB and preferring private millers who offered competitive prices.
However, according to GMB, the move to increase the maize producer price is following a directive to that effect by the Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development ministry as part of measures to encourage growing of the crop as more farmers are now shifting to tobacco.
“The increase comes amid calls by farmer organisations and individuals for the government to incentivise maize farmers to continue producing the staple crop,” the GMB said.
The parastatal said with the new price announcement, it was expecting an upsurge in maize deliveries to its 84 depots, although it could not give the exact projections.
Zimbabwe has experienced a serious maize deficit, forcing it to import grain. In April this year, President Robert Mugabe indicated that the country would import 150 000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia to cover for the deficit.
In the same period, former Finance minister Tendai Biti also said the government had engaged private millers to import grain to complement efforts to ensure food security in the country.
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