Government seeks to rope in grain buyers

HARARE - Government is mulling the introduction of approved grain buyers at growth points in various districts to solve a depot crisis in the country.

Deputy Agriculture minister (livestock) Paddington Zhanda, told Parliament last week that his ministry was too broke to set up the required depots.

“I do agree that we have problems of depots in this country. The problem we have in installing depots in all the districts is financial.

“At the moment, we are now working on that; looking for means and ways of solving the problem. One of the ideas at hand is that we revive the idea of approved grain buyers,” the minister said.

Zhanda was responding to Gokwe-Kabuyani legislator, Leonard Chikomba, who had questioned the ministry over the long-standing problem regarding the installation of sub-depots.

“In other areas, we have sub-depots which collect maize but in my constituency, the only maize depot is in Gokwe.

“Farmers have had a bumper harvest and have nowhere to store their food.

When are you going to install a depot in my constituency?” Chikomba asked.

Zhanda said the buyers could be located in townships and maize would be collected from there.

“We have a problem in constructing Grain Marketing Boards near each and every farmer in the country because of financial constraints,” he said.

The deputy minister also cleared the air concerning the buying prize of maize.

“There was a misunderstanding concerning the sale of maize when the price was pegged at $390 per tonne.

“It was not stated that this price was aimed at those farmers who were farming as individuals but as far as contract farmers are concerned, the price is set by the two parties and the maize is going to be sold at the agreed price,” he said.

He said individual farmers would sell at the price stated by the government and the ministry would respect the contract made by the two parties.

“We will not peg the price for people who have made their own agreement.

“Government does not have enough money to support the farmers.

“We know the Statutory Instrument regarding contract farming emanated from our ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development,” he said.

This comes as government last month gazetted Statutory Instrument 122 of 2014 for wheat, rapoko and millet, which was criticised by private buyers as unfair.

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