Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Villagers in Chiredzi South have been urged to be wary of grain dealers who are on the prowl, buying maize and small grains from desperate farmers at appallingly low prices.
Hordes of unscrupulous grain buyers are reportedly taking advantage of the desperation for cash in remote parts of Chiredzi South where they are paying between $150 and $180 for a tonne of maize or small grains.
Chiredzi South Member of Parliament Brigadier-General Kalisto Gwanetsa (Retired) yesterday warned villagers against selling their produce to these grain scavengers instead of delivering their grain to the GMB where they get $390 per tonne.
Brig-Gen Gwanetsa (Rtd) said he was concerned with the proliferation of grain buyers who he said were fleecing desperate villagers.
He said it was prudent for villagers to deliver their produce to GMB depots where they were assured of maximum returns.
“My appeal to farmers here is that they must deliver their grain to GMB and not fall prey to grain middlemen who offer them peanuts for their grain.
“Government has, for the past three seasons, been timely paying $390 per tonne for grain and there is no reason at all to allow these mobile grain buyers to take away villagers’ grain at extremely low prices,’’ said Cde Gwanetsa.
The Chiredzi South legislator urged villagers to be patient and wait for GMB to open more satellite depots to enable farmers in all parts of the country to deliver their grain.
“GMB will soon open satellite depots just like what they did last season, this will make it easy for farmers to ferry grain, even using scotch carts, to the depots. We can’t fold our hands while our farmers are losing almost half of their revenue to these grain scavengers,’’ he said.
However, some farmers in some parts of Chiredzi South such as Gwaseche, Malipati and Dhavata blamed GMB for failure to make it easier for them to deliver their produce.
“If you grow cotton, when harvesting time starts, Cottco delivers picking and packing bags to your door step. But for maize and sorghum, you have to first go to Chiredzi to get packing bags which are not always available,” said a Gwaseche farmer.
They said besides challenges in securing packaging material, most farmers in remote areas were finding it difficult to transport their grain to nearest GMB depots because of high costs.
“We have to use our resources to transport the grain to GMB where in most cases we are told the moisture content is too high and only get to deliver the grain after paying a bribe, this eventually forces desperate farmers to choose middlemen ahead of delivering to GMB,’’ added another farmer. Chiredzi is this year expecting a bumper maize and small grains harvest after favourable rains coupled with increased support with agricultural inputs from Government.