Harare North law maker Hon Allan Markham has demanded that the ministers responsible for agriculture and finance give a ministerial statement on the reasons behind the delayed payment of wheat farmers two months after delivering produce.
Wheat is a crop grown in the winter in Zimbabwe and harvest runs from October to December.
Zimbabwe like other African countries who were dependant on wheat imports from Russia had to look internally and strengthen local supply chains in a bid to augment the shortage caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.
The war which began in February this year resulted in a shortage of wheat which lead to price hike of the wheat and bread local.
Despite increasing the number of hectares of wheat this year, the country has not paid the farmers since they delivered the wheat.
Raising a point of national interest last Thursday in parliament Markham expressed concern over delayed payment which may affect preparation for next season.
“My point of national interest is requesting a statement from the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
“Currently, we are aware that the Government has yielded and received 255.000 tonnes of wheat.
“That has been in stock now for nearly two months and no wheat farmer that I am aware of has been paid anything yet.
“Wheat farmers are due to receive $200 to $220 per tonne and also ZWL 255.000 but none of this has been paid.
“I think it is a matter of national importance that this House asks for a statement from the Minister as to the delay in payment,” said Markham.
Storage and Marketing
Furthermore, Markham hinted that farmers were expected to pay for storage and marketing of the produce.
“There are also rumours that a farmer has to stomach the price as the cost of storage and the marketing of that grain because the Government cannot pay them.
“The matter is seriously urgent because any farmer who grew winter wheat and cannot fund his crop for this coming summer season in inputs as he does not have payment is affected this summer.
Wheat is among the grain on the controlled produce list that restricts farmers to sell the produce to the Grain Marketing Board or contractor who has financed production.
Earlier in the year the government complained about side marketing by farmers insisting it would cause food insecurity.
The further payment delays to wheat farmers may result into a shortage of the produce or a rise in price.
However, Markham maintains that the delay will push the farmer to borrow in the financial sector with the highest lending rate in the world.
“The farmer only has one option which is to go into the market and borrow the money at 200% interest.
“ I have no idea what the Ministers of Agriculture and Finance are thinking in order to solve this situation.
“ We have always stated the need to peg the producer price in US dollars. There is nothing more urgent than now.” said Markham.