GOVERNMENT has to date cleared all arrears owed by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to farmers countrywide for grain deliveries for the past farming seasons, Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
By Simon Phiri
He said this while presenting the 2016 National Budget in Parliament last week.
The parastatal owes farmers a total of $44,9 million for grain deliveries.
This was done through a $6,8 million fund disbursed to the parastatal by the Finance ministry to pay farmers, who supplied grain in the 2013/14 season and capacitate commercial farmers.
Chinamasa said delays by the GMB to pay for deliveries constrained farmers’ capacity to finance their agricultural activities, a development that has contributed to the shortage of maize in the country in the past few years.
He said the government resolved to prioritise payment of grain deliveries to the GMB, as this capacitates farmers.
“Government delays in paying farmers for deliveries to the GMB has in the past constrained individual farmers’ capacity to finance their future programmes. Government has, therefore, continued to prioritise payment for grain deliveries to GMB as a way of capacitating farmers,” Chinamasa said.
“A total of $67,8 million has been paid between January and November 12 for grain deliveries, while $11 million was availed to the GMB for handling and storage charges.”
The GMB received 73 271 metric tonnes (mt) of maize worth $28 575 622 in the 2013/14 farming season and the government has since paid the money to the farmers. Government also paid 20 155mt of wheat worth $10 077 500 and small grains (15 958mt) worth $6 223 609 for the same period.
Chinamasa said the balance from the $67,8 million disbursed to the GMB was used to clear obligations for this year’s deliveries.
“The $67,8 million disbursed this year went towards the 2013/14 season arrears, $44,9 million, while the balance of $22,9 million cleared obligations related to this year’s deliveries,” he said.