HARARE – The pre-planting producer prices announced by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) last week are unsustainable and discouraging to farmers, the Zimbabwe Integrated Commercial Farmers Union (ZICFU) has said.
The GMB last week announced in a press release that the new producer price of maize will be $58 553, 25 per metric tonne, traditional grain $70 263, 90/MT, Soya Bean 125 530, 17/MT and Sunflower $150 636, 20/MT.
But ZICFU President Maiwepi Jiti said on coming out with the prices, the GMB did not consider production costs, noting that inputs were being charged in USD which were sourced on the parallel market when the sole buyer was paying farmers in Zimbabwe dollars.
“Farmers are having serious problems in sourcing the inputs in time from governments Pfumvudza, Presidential or command programme, for example seed and fertilisers are distributed in December/January, which is too late for that particular season,” she said.
She said the time that the GMB took to pay farmers left them left at the receiving end as the prices of inputs were pushed upwards due to the unstable exchange rate which changed too often.
“ Currently the price of maize at 54 000 will just pay for only four bags of compound fertiliser with no ammonium Nitrate, chemicals, labour, electricity and other requirements,” she said.
Jiti said banks had completely shunned farmers and were failing to finance agricultural programmes.
She said it was high time farmers got involved not only in the inputs processing industry but also in the whole value chain in order to mitigate some of the challenges they were facing.
Farmers, she added, should also invest in crops that pay them more and earn the much needed foreign currency.
However, Commercial Farmers Union President, Shadreck Makombe said if the prices of inputs remained as they were, the new producer prices would be viable.
‘’The new producer prices are viable given the situation, and if inputs prices are not hiked, we are happy with them. Unfortunately going forward, when there are price hikes, it will be a different story,” he said.
The maize producer price had remained pegged at $32 000 per tonne since the 2020 marketing season.
The GMB is on record saying it will pay farmers in the local currency since it does not export any grains.