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Millers mobilise $20bn for maize procurement

by Staff Reporter
14 May 2021 at 08:37hrs | Views
Senior Business Reporter THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has mobilised $20 billion under a pre-payment arrangement with Government to bankroll maize procurement by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) this selling season.

GMAZ chairman, Mr Tafadzwa Musarara, said this during a Press conference held in Bulawayo yesterday.

Following a bumper harvest the country has achieved on the back of good rains in the last cropping season, Government has this year set aside $60 billion to capacitate the GMB in paying farmers for maize deliveries.

This means that the ZWL$20 billion mobilised by the millers is part of the ZWL$60 billion Government has earmarked for grain procurement by GMB.

"We are happy that the Government has come up with the GMB function, which we are going to support fully where farmers have been given firstly a price of $32 000 per tonne.

"If you convert it by either official or black market exchange rate, the price there will come up to US$360 per tonne (official rate) and at black market rate over US$300 per tonne, meaning our farmers receive the highest price ever and not only in the region or in Africa, but in the world," he said.

"We have mobilised $20 billion, which is more of a pre-payment arrangement that we are going to do on the terms and guidelines that are going to be set by the Government." Mr Musarara said in the past three months GMAZ has been working with the Government to support improved farm output.

According to the Second Round of Crop and Livestock Assessment Report released recently, the estimated maize production stands at 2 717 171 tonnes, which is 199 percent of the 907 628 tonnes produced in the 2019/2020 season.

"Firstly, we are thankful to God that we had more than enough rains and coupled with preparedness of Government we have now seen the country producing way above requirement harvest.

"In other words, we have recorded a bumper harvest and the bumper harvest exceeds our 1,6 million tonnes annual requirement," he said.

"We feel that a bumper harvest will require an all stakeholder cooperation in respect of disposing it, making sure that it brings the most required economic benefits to the farmers."

The GMAZ chair said this year's bumper harvest was a combination of the Government's interventions such as the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, CBZ Bank Command programme as well as private sector initiatives like contract farming and individual farmers who have also self-funded their operations.

Mr Musarara said reliance on imports is not sustainable going forward in terms of affording them and it's not prudent for any democratic and peaceful country to depend on imports for its staple food.

Over the years, it has been observed that the country's import bill was being propelled by the importation of grain following years of poor harvest due to successive droughts.

"For us now in the milling industry, that importation, it affected a lot of our businesses especially in the Small to Medium Enterprises who didn't have the capacity to import the product. "Of course, it explains some of the queues and shortages that we witnessed sometime in 2019 and early 2020," said Mr Musarara.

Through the bumper harvest, the country is guaranteed of food security that the staple food is available in terms of maize meal, maize stock feeds, as well as ensuring price stability on the market with an ultimate knock on effect on industries like dairy, beef, fishery, poultry and the livestock sector benefitting.

Over 6 000 tonnes of maize was delivered to GMB during the first three weeks of the 2021 marketing season that began on April 1.

The marketing season opened with nearly 1 400 buying points established countrywide, and authorities are working on setting up an additional 400 selling points as the season progresses.

All 84 GMB depots have begun operating daily, including on weekends, to facilitate uninterrupted grain deliveries, with supplies expected to start picking up next month.

Source - Chronicle