Farmers threaten to recover grain delivered to GMB

maize_cropMUREWA - Farmers owed thousands of dollars by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for unpaid grain delivered to depots since early this year, have threatened to demand back their produce and sell it to ready markets elsewhere.

Communal farmers and beneficiaries of the chaotic Zanu (PF) land reform programme, said they missed the current farming season due to non-payment of their dues by GMB.

Their situation was worsened by partisan distribution of inputs. Headmen linked to Zanu (PF) were selling government subsidised fertilizer and maize seed to party card carrying members only. Those handpicked to access the $15 per 50 kilogram pocket of fertilizer were complaining of high transport costs charged by scandalously selected transporters related to senior Zanu (PF) officials who transported inputs to farmers. Farmers were also misled that the low-priced inputs subsidised by government were sourced by President Robert Mugabe.

GMB has let us down. Given that payment of grain delivered to GMB failed to be made according to earlier agreements, the 2010-2011 farming season skipped us. Our only option was to demand back grain delivered to GMB and seek alternative markets. It was unfortunate and embarrassing to note that honourable members of parliament could summon guts to mislead fellow legislators and the nation that farmers would get their dues in time for the next farming season, said an angry villager from Chigogodza village.

Elsewhere, tobacco farmers accused top politicians of ripping off new farmers at the auction floors. We have failed to breakeven following under pricing of tobacco at auction floors last year. A number of deceitful companies masquerading as new breed of indigenous tobacco buyers connected to top politicians, mushroomed last year and bought the green leaf at far below normal market prize. The companies would later dispose the leaf to big spending buyers like Chinese, Americans and British among others. This impacted negatively on small scale and new farmers who were left with no resources to prepare crop for the next season. At some point a kilogram of tobacco sold at $0.60 compared to the usual average $4. Though tobacco prize was determined by the leaf quality and weight, what prevailed at auction floors last selling season was daylight robbery, said Richard Ngwerume, a new farmer in Hwedza.

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