Most farmers in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West province have cut ties with the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which owes them thousands of dollars each for grain deliveries.
They are now selling maize and other grains to private buyers offering low prices.
Mangura farmer, Christopher Jaure, told Studio 7 he will never sell his grain to the GMB as he is owed 75 tonnes of maize worth hundreds of dollars delivered to the Lions Den Depot last year.
Another farmer Tongai Chishaya of Makonde said the GMB’s failure to pay for their produce has resulted in serious labour disputes between farm laborers and workers as farmers do not have any other source of income to pay wages.
Some of the farmers, who are recipients of Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform program which has resulted in the forced removal of over 3,000 white commercial farmers from their farms since 2000, say they are now selling maize to private buyers for between $240 and $300 per tonne.
The GMB used to buy such produce for $390 a tonne. Private buyers come from as far afield as Gokwe in the Midlands province, Masvingo and the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo.
Hurungwe farmer, Gladman Tsvogorani, who is owed $3,900 from last year’s deliveries, vowed that he will not take his maize to GMB anymore because it is broke.
He is now selling his agricultural produce to individual buyers at Magunje Growth Point.
Farmer Noel Muvingi, who delivered 600 tonnes of maize to the GMB Depot a year ago and has not yet been paid for his produce, noted that he has decided to sell his grain this year to farmers looking for stockfeed.
But GMB acting general manager, Lawrence Jasi in respond to questions posed by Studio 7, said Treasury is mobilizing funds to settle all farmers’ arrears.
“Treasury is still mobilizing funds to pay farmers that delivered maize to GMB depots last year and current deliveries. Payments to farmers will be done through the banking system,” said Jasi.
GMB is now requesting farmers to sign a contract with the parastatal which is promising to pay them within 90 days after receiving their produce. The contract stipulates that farmers are free to take their maize from GMB depots and sell it to private buyers if the state-owned entity fails to pay within the agreed three months.
Farmers are skeptical about this move, saying there is no guarantee that they will be able to get their maize back when the GMB fails to pay for their produce.
Government has been importing maize from various countries due to poor crop harvests attributed to lack of rains and alleged mismanagement of the land reform program introduced by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party that has been in power for more than 35 years.