Grain traders' legal contest selfish: Govt

HARARE - Deputy Agriculture minister, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for Cropping, Davis Marapira, says private grain traders are being selfish in mounting a legal challenge on the constitutionality of the $390-per-tonne minimum maize and sorghum price set by Government.

Marapira said the millers only had sights on their “selfish and artificial profits” and did not consider the farmers.

“The $390 per-tonne price is viable, but millers are being selfish and want to make artificial profits, without considering farmers also need to till the land.

“They are free to approach government for consultations provided farmers are also part of the consultation process,” said Marapira who revealed last year some millers were buying
maize for as little as $70 per tonne.

This comes as government last week stated grain buyers had to buy at the stipulated price from the ministry of Agriculture.

According to the Government Gazette; “Any company or individual that engages in the buying of grain from producers at the price less than the minimum price or designated buying point, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or both such fine and such imprisonment with the grain also purchased forfeited to the State.”

However, the private grain trader’s representative bodies, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) and the Grain Traders Association (GTA) have threatened to take court action for the suspension of the statutory instrument.

“The price of $390 per metric tonne of maize will create serious and unprecedented inflationary pressures in the economy as it will trigger the prices of milk, maize meal, eggs, poultry, beef, beer, baby food, livestock feeds and many other very important basic necessities to go up by more than 20 percent.

“This will see many already struggling families fail to provide adequate food for their families and consequently affect national food security.

“In fact, a 40 percent price hike will simply throw the entire civil service below the poverty datum line. This violates Section 15 of the Constitution,” said Tafadzwa Musarara, GMAZ chairman.

The instrument empowers the minister of Agriculture, in section 3 (1), to announce minimum producer prices of grain at the beginning of marketing season and outlaws any other pricing arrangements.

In the absence of grounds granting exceptions, this provision criminalises contract farming which requires parties to agree on pre-planting prices.

“If contract farming is disenabled as it is the case now, maize production will be way below national requirement and serious food shortages for the staple crop will occur which will lead to serious starvation and malnutrition.

“This provision violates sections 5 (c) and (d) of the Agricultural Marketing Authority Act as it militates against the promotion of contract farming in Zimbabwe as directed by the
economic blueprint, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, and supported by section 15 of the constitution,” Musarara said.

Comments (2)

buy the maize at stipulated prices .we dont want alarmist there is enough maize in the country

farmer - 16 August 2014

Why buy at an artifially high price when there is enough in the country? Just to give ministers (landowners) more money for same level of production? Udyire. The main benefiaries are the zanu mafia! if the price was low last year, when we had shortages, then why should it be higher when we have more? defeats law of demand and supply. we dont want price conrols to benefit the sick headed ministers!

Boarder Munaka - 18 August 2014

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