By Stephen Ephraem
CHIPINGE – Farmers who were contracted under the Command Maize Programme in Chipinge East are crying foul over exorbitant charges by transporters and mobile money agents when they deliver their produce to Chipinge Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depot.
This came out at an area agricultural show that was held at Muzite Primary School where a record of over 76 communal farmers from Muzite and Gwenzi communal lands exhibited their agricultural produce.
“We are being fleeced by transporters who are charging between $7 and $15 per 50kg bag of maize from here to town. The charges are too high considering that people here do not have enough resources owing to Tropical Cyclone Idai which affected us in March this year,” said one farmer Simba Mahaka.
Nancy Tafataona indicated that farmers were also being swindled by mobile money agents who are charging 30 percent to get access to cash.
“This area is so remote that whenever one tries to get cash, mobile money agents deduct additional charges. We wish if GMB could consider paying us with cash,” said Tafataona.
Chipinge East Agritex Supervisor one Musinaki expressed concern over the high transport costs and percentages in accessing cash.
“It’s true that transporters are charging high prices to ferry maize to GMB. They cite poor roads from Gwenzi and Muzite as well as black market fuel prices as factors that makes them charge high fares.
“As for mobile money agents, they are taking advantage of the cash crunch in the country so whoever has hard cash dictates the pace.
“The exorbitant charges have a negative effect on maize deliveries to GMB. If unregistered buyers come and flash hard cash to the farmers, they might be tempted to deliver the Command maize to them since the farmer would do away with transport charges and mobile money charges. Something must be done as soon as possible before the situation goes out of hand,” said Musinaki.