Zim Government To Pay Farmers After Court Threats

The farmers had stopped grain deliveries to the struggling parastatal over late payments.

Farmers continue to shun the GMB in favour of private players due to the parastatal’s failure to pay for maize deliveries in time. The GMB pays US$275 for each tonne of maize.

The Treasury on Monday however released US$2.7 million to the grain parastatal to pay farmers for maize deliveries made between May and June to avoid being sued.

“The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is pleased to advise that Treasury has released US$2,7 million for grain payments. Farmers who delivered their maize from 4 May to 18 June can now collect their money from their respective depots starting from Thursday 22 July 2010,” said GMB corporate communications manager Muriel Zemura in a statement released on Monday.

Zemura acknowledged that the grain parastatal was financially hamstrung to pay farmers on the spot for maize deliveries.

“We understand the situation faced by farmers. They want cash upfront but the fact is GMB has no cash ready for payment as we depend on deliveries from the farmers after which we can get income from the Treasury. We cannot give a stipulated timeframe farmers can get their payment as that is dependent on our source of money which is the treasury.”

Financial constraints have hampered the GMB’s plans to buy grain and set aside over 500 000 metric tonnes this year for strategic grain reserves to be availed to communities needing emergency food aid following poor harvests.

Food monitoring agencies have warned that hunger will start biting in September till the next harvests season.

Zimbabwe has since the turn of the millennium survived on food imports and handouts from donor agencies following the chaotic land programme, which knocked agricultural production to its knees.

Experts say the new black farmers who benefited from the land reform scheme in year 2000 lack the requisite farming skills and farming inputs to adequately produce enough to feed the nation.