That the cash-strapped Grain Marketing Board (GMB) will struggle to pay for maize delivered to the parastatal is hardly surprising. What raised eyebrows however were remarks by Agriculture deputy minister Paddy Zhanda encouraging farmers to sell maize to private buyers.
Zhanda recently told the
Government, Zhanda said, had set the buying price of
This was probably the first time since the country's Independence in 1980, that such a senior government official has uttered words completely divorced from the usual call for farmers to rush to GMB depots with their maize.
Barely a week later, Agriculture minister Joseph Made called for a press conference where he rubbished Zhanda's remarks.
Analysts say this is a clear demonstration of not only contradictions in government, but in the ministry as well.
"The GMB has been tasked by government to buy maize as it relates to the strategic grain reserve, which requires 500 000 metric tonnes annually, and I want to emphasise that the GMB is not a buyer of last resort," Made said.
"The GMB is tasked to buy grain at the beginning of the season and it buys continuously, which means farmers deliver grain throughout the season at the first instance by the farmer's choice."
"There are serious challenges at the GMB," Kanyenze noted. "The indictment is the discord between the minister and his deputy."
He said while the deputy minister's remarks were a true reflection of the situation at the GMB, Made was only giving "a politically correct" position that did not mirror the reality on the ground.
Kanyenze said Zhanda's exhortation for farmers to prioritise private buyers ahead of the GMB was "someone basically throwing in the towel".
He said there was a need to be honest on the problems bedeviling GMB.
"If the minister is not going to give the correct position on GMB, then it will be like an ostrich burying its head in the sand, hoping the problem will disappear," Kanyenze said.
He said the country's strategic grain reserve has been struggling for some time characterised by poor funding and dilapidated infrastructure and called for a rethink on how to resuscitate the parastatal.
He said if farmers are likely to be short changed if they sell to private buyers. He said private buyers would buy maize at a song and sell it for a substantially higher price which will affect not only the farmers but consumers and government as well.
Mukwende said it was the government's sole responsibility to feed the populace and this could not be abdicated to private buyers.
He said the buying price set by the government of
ecommended buying price of
The GMB has a long history of loss-making and mismanagement with workers going for seven months without pay.
In 2012, the parastatal held its first annual general meeting in 81 years and in the same year, former State Enterprises and Parastatals minister
The country requires 1,8 million tonnes of maize annually.
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