Economic commentators say the Grain Marketing Board (GMB)’s monopoly on the marketing of maize is killing the market, especially small-holder farmers.
Agricultural economist Mandivamba Rukuni said that the Government should offer farmers 50% part payment for grain in US dollars.
The Government has offered to pay farmers 30% in US dollars and 70% in Zimbabwe dollars for delivered grain. Said Rukuni:
I think the issue has been about pricing. I hope government will review the prices to 50% payment in forex because it would cost the country US dollars anyway to import grain. It’s a win-win situation for both and government and farmers.
Another economic commentator, Victor Bhoroma said the price of all agricultural products should be determined by market forces. He said:
Well, the challenge we have with the GMB monopoly on maize is that it kills market access for small-holder farmers, dents viability, creates inefficiencies in the economy and leads to rent-seeking behaviour by those with access to GMB or authorities.
Pricing for any agriculture commodity needs to be set by growers or be determined in an open market such as the commodity exchange.
Anything else will lead to a decline in production and food insecurity. GMB cannot set a competitive price, and pay for the grain on time and efficiently.
History will tell you. Millers cannot operate through buying from GMB as long as the price is above market price.
Last week, the Government resolved to use soldiers and police to seize grain from farmers to prevent the side-marketing of grains.