Farming preparations thrown off rail as GMB lets down farmers
THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) owes farmers over ZWL$54 billion and US$25 million, a situation that could affect preparations for the 2023/24 agricultural season.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, GMB finance director, Clemence Guta, said ZWL$21 billion was for maize deliveries.
“We have an outstanding balance of ZWL$54 billion. Of that, ZWL$21 billion relates to maize deliveries. And we got US$25 million which is outstanding as well. Of that, about US$8,7 million relates to maize deliveries and traditional grains with the balance of US$17 million being for wheat deliveries,” Guta said.
Guta pleaded with Treasury to release the funds ahead of the farming season.
“We are alive to the fact that farmers have been severely affected; we are continuously pursuing the Treasury so that they release these funds so that our farmers are able to go back to the fields otherwise we will have a bad season this time around,” he said.
Guta also said the GMB has started receiving inputs for the Pfumvudza programme but is still behind in terms of payments to transporters.
“Yes, we have started receiving inputs in respect of Pfumvudza to date we have received almost 67 000 metric tonnes of inputs with a balance of about 51 000. We are behind as well in terms of payments to transporters but what we have done is to ask the Treasury to release funds so that we will be able to transport these inputs. We are prepared for the season,” he said.
Meanwhile, Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka said the government was taking steps to address the transportation challenges faced by the GMB.
“Currently, we are buying lorries for GMB. The first batch of these cars is expected to be delivered before the end of April next year,” he said.
“We are going to increase the number of cars so that GMB can transport grain and inputs on its own without engaging private transporters.”
Masuka also said the government was working with transport operators to transport inputs from the factories to the GMB depots.
He added: “In the next two weeks, as a Ministry, we will need many lorries for transportation because that is when we start to transport inputs from GMB to different communities.” Newsday