HARARE, May 22 — The Zimbabwe government is encouraging farmers to sell their maize to private buyers because the government’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB) does not have funds to buy the crop.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Paddy Zhanda told Parliament here Wednesday that the state-owned enterprise had to date not been allocated funds to procure maize because of the government’s financial constraints.

“There was no allocation for the GMB to buy maize in the Budget,” Zhanda said. “We are looking at various ways of raising money.”

Zhakata said besides allocations from the government, financing could also be sourced through issuance of bills.

The GMB, he said, was not in the market to compete with private buyers but as the buyer of last resort. “If you have to sell to the GMB you have to be prepared to wait in the queue to be paid,” he said.

However, legislators argued that the government should not treat the parastatal as the buyer of last resort.
Bikita West Member of Parliament Munyaradzi Kereke said the GMB was by default the “buyer of first resort” as it was the closest to the people, especially in remote areas.

“In some areas it is the closest selling point for the people,” he said.

Zhanda insisted farmers should look for markets elsewhere. The government, he said, had set the buying price at 390 US dollars per tone this season as a benchmark to farmers who wanted to sell their maize to private buyers.

Zhanda said the GMB was responsible for acquiring 500 metric tons for the country’s strategic grain reserve.
It was also expensive to manage the reserve and the government had the option of saving funds to import grain in times of need.

The country requires at least 2.5 million tones of maize annually.