Farmers’ representatives have castigated the Government’s recent decision to use soldiers and police to seize grain from farmers.
In a memo, last week Lands and Agriculture ministry secretary John Basera instructed Grain Marketing Board (GMB) chief executive Rockie Mutenha to invoke provisions of Statutory Instrument (SI) 145/19 to stop farmers from side marketing their grain.
Responding to the memo, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe argued that farmers should be free to choose buyers for their grain. Said Makombe:
There is nothing like side marketing for those who independently grew their grain because they would have financed their farming activities.
These farmers must make independent choices on where to sell their grain as the government’s decision is curtailing their freedom to make independent choices.
This policy should have been implemented on those who produced their grain through contract farming.
Of course, those doing side marketing should be disciplined, but what about independent farmers?
However, Zimbabwe Farmers Union president Paul Zakariya said farmers who were contracted by GMB should honour their contracts. He said:
You surrendered your freedom when you signed the contract and collected the inputs promising to deliver grain at the end.
This is a contract hence there is no need for the army and police to intervene in order to deal with deviant farmers.
Some farmers prefer to sell their produce to private players citing low prices offered by GMB and late payments.
Private players are also attractive to farmers not only because they pay for the grain promptly but also because they offer foreign currency.