MUTARE, September 4 (The Source) – The Grain Marketing Board expects to pay farmers $14 million in arrears for the 2014/15 season maize crop in the next two weeks, central bank governor John Mangudya has said.
“GMB has paid $90 million to farmers for the 2014/15 agricultural season crop and there is balance of $14 million, which government has to pay off in the next two weeks,” Mangudya told The Source at the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU)’s 75th annual congress held on Wednesday.
GMB, which was mandated by government in 1996 to purchase and keep 500,000 metric tonnes of grain reserves annually, has struggled to pay farmers for maize delivered to its silos in recent years, and has relied on government to fund its operations.
Mangudya said once the debt has been cleared, it will mark a closing chapter for the 2014/15 agricultural season as farmers prepare for the new season.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO) said Zimbabwe’s maize production for the 2014/15 season was at 950,000 tonnes, over a third lower than the previous season due to a prolonged dry spell, with Harare planning to import 700,000 tonnes of white maize, mainly from neighbouring Zambia , to avert a food crisis following a drought that affected crops in most parts of the country this season.
ZFU executive director Paul Zakaria said the country was ill prepared for the 2015/16 agricultural season, adding that delays by GMB to pay farmers on time also affected.