Tuesday, 3 October 2017

GMB FLEECING FARMERS : MINISTER

Cabinet has warned Grain Marketing Board (GMB) staff conniving with unlicensed grain merchants to prejudice farmers that they will face punitive action. This follows concerns raised over GMB officials who are allegedly ill-treating farmers, while some depots were reportedly refusing to accept other crops, especially small grains.

There were also concerns that unscrupulous businesspeople were discouraging farmers from delivering their crop to GMB by peddling falsehoods that the parastatal was no longer accepting grain because its silos were full. In a statement issued after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe said Cabinet was concerned with the ill-treatment of farmers delivering grain to GMB.

“Cabinet has warned the GMB against ill-treating farmers who deliver their grain as corrective measures will be taken. GMB should receive and accept all grain delivered to its depots across the country in an open and transparent manner. It should urgently set up satellite depots at rural districts and service centres in order to cut down on transport costs and boost grain deliveries,” he said.

Dr Mushohwe urged GMB to ensure that all grain delivered to its depots is paid for sequentially, on a first-come-first-served basis and without bias or self interest.

“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. To this end, farmers and the public at large should expose and report all malpractices by public officials and bogus grain buyers and sellers to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and the Police for prompt corrective action.”

GMB recently urged farmers to continue delivering grain as there was still space. Farmers have delivered over one million tonnes of maize and substantial amounts of small grains such as sorghum, pearl millet, rapoko and soyabeans, signalling the success of the 2016-17 summer cropping season in terms of food security.

Most farmers who produced maize under the Special Maize Import Substitution Programme (Command Agriculture) have finished harvesting their crop and the GMB is now receiving deliveries from small scale farmers and those who benefited from the Presidential Well Wishers Agriculture Inputs Scheme that have surplus.

GMB was ordered to open satellite depots to enable farmers to deliver their crop without challenges and to protect it from the rains. The satellite depots will also be used for collection of inputs under the Presidential Well Wishers Agriculture Input Scheme. GMB is buying maize, red sorghum, white sorghum, rapoko and millet at a uniform price of $390 per tonne.
The parastatal has storage facilities to cater for four million tonnes of grain. The cylindrical silos have a capacity of 700 000 tonnes while hard stands cater for 3,3 million tonnes of grain.

This year, Government expects to receive four million tonnes made up of different crops such as maize, soyabeans and small grains. Herald

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