Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Wheat Board is lobbying Government to pay 20 percent foreign currency on deliveries made to the Grain Marketing Board so that farmers are able to buy inputs.
Citing the prevailing financial distortions in the market, wheat farmers have expressed concern over the price of key inputs that were pegged in foreign currency. In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe Wheat Board chairperson Mr Givemore Mesoemvura said farmers were asking for part payment in foreign currency of their produce delivered to GMB.
“We held a wheat conference in Harare last week. At the conference, the wheat farmers revealed that they no longer afford to buy inputs using local currency given the prevailing situation in the market,” he said.
“So, they requested if they can receive 20 percent of the payment in forex so that they are able to procure inputs for the next season.
“As the wheat board, we saw it reasonable to lobby Government on their behalf to have the farmers receive 20 percent of the payment in forex.”
Mr Mesoemvura said GMB was paying farmers $500 per tonne for wheat deliveries. Zimbabwe needs 450 000 tonnes of wheat per year and at its peak in 2001 production stood at 325 000 tonnes.
The crop’s first steep decline occurred in 2002 when output halved to 150 000 tonnes. Last year, the country’s winter wheat production was projected to reach over 20 000 tonnes from about 10 000 tonnes in 2016.
As a result of the wheat shortage, the country is spending millions importing the commodity to cover the deficit. Recently, the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe announced that it had imported 30 000 tonnes of wheat while about 200 000 tonnes were stuck at Beira, Mozambique due to logistical challenges to bring the commodity into the country. — @okazunga