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Zimbabwe Raises Maize Producer Price, But Farmers Still Lag Costs

A decision by the Zimbabwean government to raise the producer price for maize by Z$21,000 or roughly 60% has gotten a lukewarm reception from farmers in the country who say the measure is too little too late. Farmers said that prices of agricultural inputs like fertilizer and fuel have gone up much more than the price hike.

The new price is Z$52,450 per metric tonne of maize, effective retroactively to April.

But an official of the Grain Marketing Board, a state monopoly that controls the official market in grain, said the agency lacked details on the new price and was awaiting an injection of funds from the government to pay farmers for maize consignments.

The official said the GMB has collected some 500,000 tonnes of maize in the 2005-2006 harvest season, so it needs Z$10.5 billion to pay farmers. Chronic late payment by the GMB has been a major complaint by farmers who need the income to finance planting in the season which is currently getting under way.

Former GMB general manager Renson Gasela, agriculture spokesman for the faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Arthur Mutambara, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare should announce a pre-planting producer price to encourage expanded maize crops.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...