Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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GMB announces new maize price

GMB announces new maize price

Agriculture Reporter

THE Grain Marketing Board has announced the 2009/10 maize floor price of US$325 per tonne, a price described by farmers as viable.

With effect from April 1, there will be an increase of US$60 from the previous season’s price of US$265 per tonne.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wilson Nyabonda said the price was good considering that it was coming from the buyer of last resort.

“Hopefully, the market will respond positively and offer better prices. However, GMB should be resourced so that it has the capacity to pay farmers instantly.

“We do not want to see a situation whereby farmers spend weeks and months waiting for their money when they should be using it for their projects,” Mr Nyabonda said.

He said banks did not have structured funding for farmers hence it was important that GMB pays farmers on time.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said the US$325 per tonne was welcome considering the prices being offered in the region.

“Generally, prices are lower regionally mostly at US$140 per tonne, so any movement upwards in terms of price is welcome.

“It is imperative that local produce is now safeguarded against imports. We should be discouraging imports so that local produce has a market. It is better to support the local farmers to produce than rely on imports,” he said.

Mr Zakariya pointed out that the issue was not the announcement of a good price, but the procurement of the grain.

“GMB should be able to buy the grain. The company should redeem its image by paying farmers quickly to avoid a situation whereby farmers will rather sell it at giveaway prices to get cash,” he said.

Chabwino farmer Mr Godfrey Chingwe said he expected a price higher than US$325.

“I was looking at US$450 to US$500 per tonne. Our production costs were high considering that we bought fertilizers at high prices,” he said.

GMB managing director Mr Albert Mandizha said the price was arrived at after consultations with those involved in farming.

“We had serious stakeholder consultations and rigorous interrogation of cost of production models and comparison of free on board prices such as South Africa, Zambia and Malawi.

“We hope that this price will give a fair return to the farmer and stimulate local production and ensure in future we will import much less than we are doing at the moment,” Mr Mandizha said.

He said the floor price was the legal offer price or market entry and trading in any price below this was illegal.

GMB warned farmers of unscrupulous traders who may try to cheat them of their crops offering seemingly attractive prices, which they may not pay.

“We have had several cases where farmers lost their grain to conmen. Payment modalities will soon be made public,” he said.

The parastatal used to be the sole buyer of maize and wheat from farmers, but with the liberalisation of the market it now competes with other buyers.

The 2009 National Budget gave GMB the mandate to announce FOB import parity-related maize and wheat grain floor prices in foreign currency.

Last season, GMB announced a price of US$265 which was among the highest prices that were offered by buyers.

GMB did not readily have cash to buy grain and would take long to pay farmers. This resulted in some farmers selling their maize to middlemen offering prices as low as US$180 per tonne while others had to hold on to their crop in anticipation of better prices.

Despite difficulties in payment, the GMB registered an increase in grain deliveries.

“There has been an increase of 78 percent in maize deliveries and 98 percent increase in wheat deliveries this season as compared to the same period last year,” Mr Mandizha said.

The GMB boss urged farmers to continue delivering their grain at the correct moisture content of 12,5 percent or less.

Farmers not sure of the level of moisture content can take their samples to GMB laboratories for testing at a nominal fee.


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