GOKWE: Some unscrupulous dealers have flooded Gokwe North district where they are fleecing desperate farmers and buying maize at less than half the producer price.
CommuTalk established through observation that shop owners at business centers like Mashame are exchanging a bucket of maize for groceries valued at around two United States dollars before selling it at a much higher price.
The dealers are in essence buying a tonne of maize at around 130 000 Zimbabwe dollars, way below half the 320 000 Zimbabwe dollars a tonne pronounced by government.
Local farmers in the area however said they are well aware that they are being duped but have no option owing to several prevailing conditions.
“My child we have no choice at all. We need food, we need medication and all other accessories which requires cash. We don’t have the money and all we have is the maize and so we are forced to deal with what is on the ground,” said one farmer, Tarisai Simbaneuta.
“Our biggest challenge is the issue of roads and transport. If we are to take our maize to Gokwe center, the cost involved will end up tallying these makwerekwere price. If at least the roads could be sorted then GMB might as well come and buy maize from us and we might be able to deal with these thieves,” another farmer added, Panganai Simango.
“The people from here usually rely on cotton for cash while we keep our maize for food. What has happened is that we have not received payments for cotton delivered in the previous season and we have again delivered for this season and still nothing.
“This has forced us to sell our maize for cash but I can assure you, come November we will start to queue at social welfare as all our reserves will be finished. I would suggest government puts tighter measures on the buying of maize by dealers as what we see is daylight robbery,” further said another farmer, Munyaradzi Saizi.
Gokwe-Gumunyu legislator Stephen Ngwenya however said farmers should be patient while they engage authorities to address the situation.
“I must say we are seized by the problems the farmers are facing. We have since engaged the guys at GMB from Gokwe center who have promised us that there will be satellite stations around Gokwe North. The process seems to be taking long but the community should bear with government as solutions are being sought.”
Government says it has this year set aside 60 billion Zimbabwe dollars for the Grain Marketing Board to purchase maize from farmers to secure the country’s strategic grain reserves.