Cabinet orders GMB to accept grain transparently

HARARE - Cabinet has directed the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to accept grain from farmers in an open and transparent manner, following reports that people were actually paying to get their grain accepted by the country’s granary.

This comes amid reports that some grain was rejected in order for the farmers to pay a small unaccounted fee to officials for them to accept the product.

In a statement issued by Information minister Chris Mushohwe after Cabinet sitting yesterday, GMB was ordered to accept all grain delivered to it.

“Following concerns over the treatment of farmers delivering grain to the GMB by the officials thereat, Cabinet discussed the matter and resolved as follows: to direct that the GMB should receive and accept all grain delivered to its depots across the country in an open and transparent manner,” Mushohwe said.

He also said that Cabinet had resolved that GMB should urgently set up satellite depots at rural districts and service centres in order to cut down on the transport costs that are being incurred by farmers, which will in turn boost the amount they will receive.

Mushohwe further said Cabinet had also resolved “that the GMB should ensure that all grain delivered to it is paid for sequentially, on a first-come first-served basis and without bias and or self-interest.

“Furthermore, Cabinet wishes to advise that any GMB or public officials found and or believed to be conniving or colluding with unlicensed grain merchants to prejudice farmers and the State will be dealt with resolutely in terms of the country’s laws.”

The country’s grain flows increased this season, following the government’s Command Agriculture programme, which saw farmers being supplied with inputs.

Under this programme A1 farmers, whose farm sizes average six hectares, produced 521 588 tonnes, or 24 percent of the total crop. Old resettlement farmers, estimated to be around 76 000, also came in with 147 068 tonnes, or seven percent.

According to official reports, small-scale commercial producers and peri-urban farmers produced 64 538 tonnes and 7 680 tonnes, respectively.

This was an improved development in the agriculture sector as compared to the previous seasons, although it failed to meet the projected target.

While farmers have managed to produce a substantial amount of grain, they have witnessed a major setback on how to sell it to the GMB, which has resulted in the Cabinet yesterday asking members of the public to report all malpractices to the police.

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