Zim’s new maize marketing policy explained

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GOVERNMENT — through the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development — recently promulgated amendments to the control of the sale of maize regulations.

The Grain Marketing (Control of Sale of Maize) (Amendment) Regulations, 2023 (No. 1) (Statutory Instrument 56 of 2023) enunciates the current Government policy on the marketing of maize, as previously announced.

It is important, however, to note that the sale of maize remains controlled.

But some flexibility has been introduced, in line with the agricultural transformation agenda. Financing production and contracting

The marketing of grains and maize is based on the production scheme.

There are four basic forms of financing maize production: Contract farming by private contractors; Government-supported programmes such as Pfumvudza/Intwasa and National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (formerly known as Command Agriculture); and self-financed production.

The definition of a contractor has been amended to include the Government (through its agencies, arms or organs) and individuals, entities, companies or other persons registered by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) as contractors in a given agricultural season.

Authorised agencies

Authorised agencies involved in the collection, storage, distribution or marketing of agricultural products now include the Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange (ZMX).

The ZMX is a corporate body registered in terms of the company laws of Zimbabwe — which operates in accordance with the rules set out in the Agricultural Marketing Authority (Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange) Rules, 2021, and provides an automated trading platform for agricultural products based on the warehouse receipt system.

Effectively, the ZMX can now participate in the marketing of maize on terms and conditions provided in the law.

Self-financed farmers

The regulations now define self-financed farmers, who are, basically, those growers who use their own free funds to finance the production of maize and are not party to any Government scheme or private contracting arrangement.  Self-financed farmers must be registered with the AMA to enable them to market their maize crop.

Selling modalities

Only registered contractors and producers, or their authorised agents, are eligible to sell or dispose of maize.

Maize must be sold to either the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) or the contractor who financed the production.

The selling of maize to the GMB shall be on terms and conditions approved by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development. The GMB is not bound to accept any maize delivered by any person other than a producer, a self-financed farmer or a contractor.  However, self-financed farmers (who can either be individuals, companies, statutory bodies or other entities) may dispose of maize through certified warehouses registered by the ZMX, to the GMB, to registered contractors or processors. Government may limit the maximum quantity that may be accessed by processors from registered self-financed farmers from time to time. All maize sold to the GMB shall be delivered in a manner specified by the parastatal from time to time.

Acquisition/buying of maize

No individual or entity is allowed to buy or acquire maize from any farmer or producer except directly from the contracted farmer or through the GMB.

Thus, lawful buying of maize means acquisition by a registered contractor directly from the financed producer or farmer or by the registered contractor from a self-financed farmer.

In addition, registered self-financed farmers can also buy maize from a certified warehouse registered by the ZMX, from the GMB or a maize producer with whom the self-financed farmer has contracted to produce the maize. In the latter case, the self-financed farmer is required to register with the AMA as a contractor beforehand for this purpose. Where registered contractors buy maize from self-financed farmers, they are required to segregate such maize and account for it separately from their normal contracted crop.

Details of the self-financed farmers must be recorded. The amount and price of the maize bought should also be recorded.

Any maize acquired for use as seed shall not be disposed of for any other purpose except with written permission of the GMB.

Transportation of maize

A producer or farmer is still allowed to freely transport not more than five bags (maximum 50kg per bag) within Zimbabwe.

A producer may only transport maize in excess of the five bags where the cereal is being delivered to the GMB or as authorised by the Government through nominated agencies, including the ZMX.

The GMB is now empowered to ensure swift movement of all maize produced under contract farming, through self-financing, by contractors or their transporter agents through the issuance of movement permits, upon application, for a fee of US$10 or equivalent in the local currency per vehicle used in the movement of the grain.

Permits can either be virtual or issued in material form. They must specify validity, routes to be taken, the quantity of maize being moved and the destination.

Maize imports

With effect from May 8, 2023, only the GMB is authorised to export maize from Zimbabwe until the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development specifies otherwise.

All stakeholders are, therefore, advised to take note of the changes to ensure seamless marketing of maize.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the GMB, the AMA and the ZMX remain available to assist with any issues arising from the 2022/2023 agricultural marketing season.

* Peter Mudzimiri is the Agricultural Marketing Authority’s head of compliance and corporate secretary. Word from the Market is a column produced by the AMA to promote market-driven production. Feedback: cchiduku@ama.co.zw or WhatsApp/Call +263781706212.