Millers cry foul over gazetted maize price

THE Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) wants the gazetted maize price of $390 per tonne to apply only to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) purchases, an official has said.

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The government last month pegged the maize producer price for the 2014 to 2015 marketing season at $390 per tonne, up from last season’s $385. However, in an interview with Southern Eye Business on Friday GMAZ chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara said the $390 per tonne of maize was the highest price in the world and was going to burden private millers and traders who are purchasing maize.

Musarara appealed to the government to allow private traders to operate unregulated.

“The government of Zimbabwe has announced a figure of $390 per tonne for maize, which is the highest price in the world. It’s public secret that there is no fiscal space for the government to make available the $100 million dollars that it provisioned for in the 2014 national budget for maize purchase,” he said.

“Whilst other attempts are being made, which include the raising of Treasury Bills to raise funds for maize purchase, the burden to buy and pay the maize from farmers currently rests with private millers and traders.

“If GMB commences purchases at new gazetted prices, the market will correct itself. The danger of imposing compulsory adherence to $390 per tonne on maize is that the financier will not be keen to participate citing legal risks since buying at lower prices would have been criminalised,” added Musarara.

“We respectfully propose that the government allow the gazetted prices to apply only to GMB purchases and let private trade unregulated.”

He said the 2013 to 2014 maize marketing season has commenced in the middle of a biting liquidity crunch which is the worst since attainment of independence in 1980.

“Further, the gazetted price is now affecting contract farming arrangements where parties had agreed on lower prices. The farmers are demanding a price review of the initially agreed maize price in the contract to $390,” he said.

“Such conflicts are unfortunate, regrettable and carry the potency of affecting future co-operation between farmers and contractors.”

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