Midlands Bureau Chief
A poultry farmer from Chiwundura, who was arrested for illegally buying maize worth over $1,2 million from villagers who benefited from the Pfumvudza/ Intwasa and Presidential Farming Inputs schemes, has been fined $40 000.
Under the two schemes, farmers who benefited from free inputs are expected to sell their produce to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Kevin Franceys, the proprietor of a Chiwundura-based livestock farming business running under the name A.G Franceys and Sons, appeared before Gweru Magistrate Ms Patricia Gwetsayi facing one count of violating Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019.
Under the SI, only the GMB is permitted to buy maize from producers or export the commodity and those side-marketing are prosecuted.
Franceys pleaded not guilty to the charges on behalf of A G Franceys and Sons company but was convicted after a full trial.
In his defence, Franceys told the court that for decades, his company has been buying maize from farmers in Chiwundura since there is no GMB depot nearby.
Ms Gwetsayi fined Franceys $40 000.
It was the State’s case that last year, GMB opened a maize collection point in Chiwundura where farmers who benefited from the Pfumvudza/ Intwasa and Presidential Farming Inputs Schemes were expected to sell their produce.
The court heard that after opening the collection point, not even a single bucket of maize was delivered to GMB prompting the parastatal to investigate.
Franceys was identified as the proprietor of a livestock farming business running under the name A G Franceys and Sons and has a warehouse in Chiwundura.
Police found workers at the warehouse in the process of grading some of the maize for processing into chicken feed, and some to be sold to the GMB.
Franceys was arrested and police seized from the warehouse maize weighing 38 tonnes.
The police also confiscated records showing the maize purchases.