Farmers have delivered over 570 000 tonnes of grain to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), with the parastatal paying them $18 billion, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, said yesterday.
He said this during the Question and Answer session in the National Assembly.
Minister Masuka said maize contributed the bulk of the grain delivered with farmers delivering approximately 500 000 tonnes while the remainder comprises of small grains.
Because of the increased deliveries, said Minister Masuka, delays were being experienced in payment in some instances with some farmers being paid after a week.
Presently, GMB owes farmers $2,5 billion in outstanding payments.
At the onset of the marketing season, the parastatal pledged to pay farmers within 24 hours of delivering grain to their depots.
The GMB is expecting to procure 1,8 million tonnes of maize and 200 000 tonnes of traditional grains, thus making 2 million tonnes of grains.
The parastatal is buying maize at $32 000 per tonne and traditional grains at $38 000 per tonne. Zimbabwe expects a bumper harvest of over 2,7 million tonnes of maize this season, implying a surplus of 1,2 million tonnes after all local demand including that of the farmers’ families is met.
The bumper harvest has been attributed to the good rains received last season, Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming concept and the early distribution of inputs.
Meanwhile, Minister Masuka said Government was working flat out to clear the $1,5 billion owed to cotton farmers from last year’s marketing season.
Cotton farmers delivered over 70 000 tonnes of the crop last year due to increased Government support. The central bank has provided $5 billion and US$10 million guarantees to Cottco to ensure the company clears its debt to farmers.
This year, Zimbabwe expects to produce 150 000 tonnes of cotton.