Farmers, millers deal imminent

HARARE - Farmer organisations say they are prepared to negotiate with private grain dealers concerning the $390 per tonne minimum maize and soya bean price set by government.

This comes after the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) last week sued government for setting grain and soya purchase prices because it says the State’s policy will cause starvation.

However, government said Statutory Instrument 122 of 2014 which regulates the prices of small grains would not displace set contractual agreements. 

Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) chief economist Prince Kuipa told the businessdaily that farmers were prepared to negotiate with the millers — provided the millers request a meeting with farmers.

“We are very prepared to go for consultations as this business is made up of value chains, so everyone has to be happy in the chain. We do realise consultations may mean a downward review which will affect us as farmers, but we will gladly go for consultations with the millers,” he said.

Kuipa also noted that farmer organisations were open to negotiations because they were weary of a price hike from millers on the consumer.

“There is a downside to it, on the part of the consumer. All we want to do as farmers is to protect the consumer,” Kuipa said.

Government earlier this month stated grain buyers had to buy at a stipulated price from the ministry of Agriculture.

“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 so purchased forfeited to the State,” said the Government Gazette.

Zimbabwe, once the second-biggest grain exporter in Africa, suffered years of agricultural decline after President Robert Mugabe’s government in 2000 began seizing mainly white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black subsistence farmers to make up for land appropriation during colonial rule.

Maize prices in the southern African nation began falling after farmers planted 18 percent more of the crop before this year’s harvest according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

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