Farmers deliver 64% more maize to GMB on faster payments

(pic: The Nation)

Maize deliveries have soared thanks to more speedy payments, boosting supplies of the scarce staple, according to the Grain Marketing Board.

Farmers sold 124,985 tons during the first four months of the season compared with 76,400 tons a year earlier as they received payment within two to three days of delivery, Rockie Mutenha, the chief executive officer of the state-run body, said Thursday.

“Farmers are now able to use their money on time before it’s eroded by inflation,” Mutenha said. “We have also increased our collection points to reduce the traveling distance for farmers.”

The GMB is paying Z$21,000 (US$252 at the official exchange rate) a ton plus a 30% bonus for deliveries made by the end of the month, he said.

Zimbabwe’s grain stockpile has dwindled amid a prolonged drought, recession and soaring inflation, while a chronic shortage of foreign currency has limited the government’s ability to import food.

The World Food Programme (WFP estimates 8.6 million Zimbabweans, or 60% of the population, will be food insecure by the end of this year.

In July, the WFP appealed for a further US$250 million in aid to support what it called a “rapidly expanding emergency operation” to save millions of Zimbabweans from starvation.

Zimbabwe yielded only 1.1 million metric tonnes of the staple maize this year. The harvest is less than half the national requirement. This points to even more severe hunger in early 2021, the peak of the next “lean” season, the WFP warned.

“Hyperinflation is a feature of the country’s profound economic crisis and has pushed the prices of basics beyond the means of many Zimbabweans,” the WFP said.