Michael Tome Herald Correspondent
The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), has paid $160 million to Government towards the purchase of 2018 maize and wheat grown under Command Agriculture in a bid to ensure farmers are paid on time.
GMAZ says prompt payments will help boost confidence in the agriculture sector.
GMAZ acting general manager Lynette Veremu, told The Herald Business that the apex board released $160 million in advance to encourage farmers deliver their produce to GMB so that they can be paid early.
“We are proud to announce that we have advanced over $160 million to GMB with maize getting around $100 million and wheat getting $60 million for the 2018 season. We are happy that the Government has entrusted us again with that role after we successfully carried out last year’s Command Agric task,” said Ms Veremu.
This will be a confidence booster to many farmers as the marketing board is efficiently carrying out its duties.
Meanwhile, Chartered Accountants, Baker Tilly, recently completed an audit of the $200 million maize grain which the organization procured at a subsidized price from Government.
The maize was grown under the Government initiated Command Agriculture programme in the last farming season and GMAZ bought the grain from GMB.
According to the audit report on GMAZ members including Blue Ribbon Foods and National Foods, millers adhered to good corporate governance on their allocations.
Ms Veremu said they were obliged to account for every grain they got from government at a subsidized price.
“We are mindful of our role of providing staple food and at the same time recognizing Government’s interventions of affording us subsidized maize at the expense of the fiscas,” she said.
“This report has proved that millers have not abused the maize but have used it for its intended purposes and we are very grateful as it is also going to give confidence on us to the authorities and the general citizens we serve,” Ms Veremu said.
The audited 800 000 tonnes of maize valued at $194 million were bought by GMAZ at $242 per tonne.
GMB had bought the maize at $390 per tonne from farmers.
Ms Veremu said they had already commissioned a similar audit on wheat farmer, which they also procured at a subsidised price.
“We are doing this in order to ensure that the national grain supplies are adequately stocked and this is also in line with section 15 of the constitution, which guarantees food security. We want also to take this opportunity to assure the nation that despite low to above normal rainfall, which some parts of the country received food supply remains stable,” she said.
GMB marketing season begins next month with farmers ready to deliver their crop to GMB.
Under Command Agriculture farmers deliver their crops to GMB and the state money is recovered through the stop order payment system where farmers deliver and get their costs deducted from the sales of one’ crop.