Pfumvudza abusers will go to jail, no fine option

Pfumvudza abusers will go to jail, no fine option Those selling or buying the agricultural inputs earmarked for the climate-proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme, Pfumvudza/Intwasa, will be sent to court where jail sentences can be imposed on conviction with admission of guilt fines at a police station not being an option.

The charges will be standard criminal charges of fraud, theft, unlawful possession and misrepresentation, and there is going to be a lot of co-operation between the police, the Grain Marketing Board and Agritex who are already digging into reports that some farmers are selling inputs and others are buying and trading in these.

At a media briefing on the distribution of Pfumvudza inputs held in Harare yesterday, GMB chief executive Mr Rockie Mutenha said as part of efforts to reduce cases of inputs fraud, the GMB will be issuing permits for movement of inputs.

GMB would work with police at road blocks to ensure that inputs reached the intended farmers. Anyone found without the relevant documents would have the inputs impounded.

“We are going to have road blocks so we will be working closely with law enforcement agents and we will issue movement permits for inputs.

“These inputs are given to farmers to produce crops not to sell. If you don’t have a piece of land and no use for the inputs, please don’t receive the inputs.

“They are meant for crop production and not for retail business.

“These are clear cases of theft and fraud,” he said.

Farmers were not supposed to pay for the transport of inputs since the inputs were being given to the farmers for free by the President.

GMB is responsible for contracting transporters. When a transporter moves inputs to a ward, they raise an invoice for GMB to pay them.

“We have heard incidents where some transporters and some local leaders are requesting farmers to pay for the inputs. The correct position is that transporters raise an invoice which is submitted to GMB,” said Mr Mutenha.

Speaking at the same briefing national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said anyone found selling and buying Presidential inputs would be arrested.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi “Presidential inputs are not for sale. Anyone found selling or buying these inputs will be arrested and we all urge the public to report such cases to any nearest police station. So far, no fines are accepted by police, these are serious cases of fraud so definitely all cases are taken to court,” he said.

Ass Comm Nyathi said they had arrested nine people across the country for abusing presidential inputs.

They are Allan Benzini (39), Christine Pfunde (47), Faith Ncube (50) and Rita Mathe (48) Tavonga Chikuni (18) Maizivei Themba (33) and Maizivei Gariyakumwe (43), Shylet Dumani (42) and Geogina Mandizha (39).

He said recently police in Plumtree recovered 18×30 kgs of compound D fertilisers, suspected to be Presidential farming inputs near Highgate Farm.

The fertilisers were abandoned in a bush by two unknown suspects who fled from the scene after a passer-by stopped as they were hiding the fertiliser in the bush.

Presidential inputs are expected to reach up to 3 million rural households targeting farmers in communal lands, A1 resettlement, peri-urban and old resettlement

GMB takes delivery of US

WHEAT farmers had by November 13 delivered 120 000 tonnes of wheat worth over US$25 million and $30 billion to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

GMB chief executive Mr Rockie Mutenha yesterday confirmed the deliveries saying 55 000 tonnes of the cereal were in the premium grade with the standard category accounting for the balance.

“Premium grade intake was 55 000 tonnes while standard grade accounted for 65 000 tonnes. For premium grade we are paying $268 048 plus US$220 per tonne, while the standard grade attracts $243 680 plus US$200 per tonne. To date about $5 billion and US$5,45 million has been paid to farmers,” said Mr Mutenha.

As the deliveries of wheat continue to increase, 46 percent of current deliveries are premium grade with 54 percent constituting the standard grade. In terms of payment, about 22 percent of the delivered wheat has been paid for with the remaining 78 percent still to be paid.

Mr Mutenha also revealed that GMB had requested a further $10 billion and US$8 million from Treasury, which is expected this week to pay outstanding wheat deliveries.

Meanwhile, Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services chief director Professor Obert Jiri disclosed that a total of 201 925 tonnes had been harvested as of November 10 from 49 159 hectares of land.

“A total of 210 925 tonnes of wheat have since been harvested as of November 10 across the country. At a preliminary average national yield estimate of 4, 78 tonnes per hectare, 374 870 tonnes can be realised,” said Prof Jiri.

Prof Jiri pointed out that combine harvesting operations were at full throttle to finish harvesting while the impact of the current rainfall activities was being assessed. Mashonaland West province has the highest wheat harvest of 60 883 tonnes, followed by Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central provinces at 39 276 and 37 270 tonnes respectively.

Mashonaland East has so far recorded the highest average yield of 5, 2 tonnes per hectare, followed by Manicaland and Mashonaland West provinces at 4, 7 and 4, 6 tonnes respectively.

Farmers under the Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA) programme have so far contributed the largest share of 36 percent to the total harvested wheat, followed by CBZ and self-financed farmers at 29 and 15 percent respectively.

Meanwhile Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) chief executive officer Mr Clever Isaya said as wheat is a controlled product in terms of the Grain Marketing (Control of Sale of Wheat and Barley) Regulations, 2021 (Statutory Instrument 188 of 2021) there were restrictions applying on the marketing of the crop.

“Privately contracted farmers are expected to deliver their wheat to contractors, as stipulated in their agreements. Farmers under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa and the National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS) (mainly administered by CBZ Agro-Yield and the AFC Land and Development Ban) are expected to sell their wheat to GMB,” said Mr Isaya.

To curb side marketing mainly caused by delayed payment among others, AMA and relevant stakeholders are doing everything to tame the vice.

“We have put in place measures to curb side marketing by mandating farmers to seek clearance from AMA and Agritex if they do not have other obligations to Government or private contractors before wheat movement permits are issued.

“We are also using a farmer database, which was verified with the civil registry to plug loopholes being used by some farmers to engage in arbitrage practices,” added Mr Isaya.

FCCA chairperson Mr Graeme Murdoch disclosed that their members are over 60 percent through with wheat harvesting with the remaining 40 percent busy reaping to avert rain damage.

“Over 60 percent of our wheat has been harvested and farmers are fulfilling their offtake arrangements with contractors, though some sell to GMB especially in areas situated nearby. On a worrying note, our farmers who delivered to GMB have not yet received their payments. Only farmers from the Presidential scheme and verified self-financing farmers have been paid. But we are told there are ongoing funding negotiations between GMB and Treasury that we hope will see our members being paid soon,” said Mr Murdoch.

The impending achievement of wheat self-sufficiency will allow the country to save of foreign currency, arrest exportation of jobs and increase economic development.

As permanent secretary in the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Ministry Dr John Basera once said the best export strategy for any country is import substitution and the wheat sector has achieved this feat.

Wheat harvesting expedited

ADEQUATE fuel and 248 combine harvesters have been mobilised to bring in the record wheat harvest expeditiously before the main rains set in.

With incidences of veld fires coming down, rains have been experienced in some parts of the country.

While the risk of fire damage is now significantly diminished and the sporadic early falls have not affected the wheat, the harvest may suffer if still in the field with near continuous rain.

Wheat needs to be harvested in clear weather. Zimbabwe is on the cusp of harvesting a record 380 000 tonnes of wheat after a record hectarage was put under the crop, and this will be the first time since commercial wheat growing started in 1966 that self-sufficiency will be reached.

If all goes well there will be a carryover surplus, enough for an extra 20 days consumption, before next year’s harvest is brought in. Speaking after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said: “Cabinet is pleased that veld fire incidents continue to decline and that the recent sporadic rains experienced across the country have not damaged the winter wheat crop. “A total of 248 combine harvesters and fuel have been mobilised to expedite the harvesting of wheat in the face of impending rains.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said GMB wheat stocks already stand at 159 706 tonnes, enough to provide 6,3 months’ cover at a consumption rate of 21 000 tonnes per month. Besides the GMB stocks, which are still growing as the harvesting continues, millers have their own stocks after they contracted farmers to grow a reasonable proportion of their requirements.

Despite the erratic rains last summer, the GMB still has adequate stocks to cope until the next harvest towards the middle of next year.

By the end of October, the GMB held stocks of 569 259 tonnes of summer grains, comprising 489 073 tonnes of maize and 80 186 tonnes of traditional grains.

“Using the monthly consumption rate of 49 294 tonnes, the available grain will last for 11,5 months,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.

Wheat harvest hits 90 000t

An estimated 90 000 tonnes of wheat have been harvested and delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), representing about a quarter of this year’s projected winter wheat harvest, Government has confirmed.

Over 95 percent of the cereal has now reached maturity stage, with the authorities advising farmers to speed up harvesting before the onset of the rainy season.

Already, farmers have lost wheat valued at over US$900 000 to veld fires.

Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services chief director Professor Obert Jiri told The Sunday Mail that nearly 90 000 tonnes of the cereal had been delivered to the GMB by October 27.

“To date, our farmers have delivered 89 000 tonnes of wheat to the GMB, and we are happy that we have no transport challenges,” said Prof Jiri.

“We have witnessed a slow start to the selling season because the production was delayed due to the late maturity of the summer season crops.

“But everything is in order and our farmers are on the ground, making sure the grain is harvested before the rains.”

About 59 percent of the crop delivered to the GMB has been classified as standard grade wheat, while the rest was categorised as premium grade.

In an interview, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos urged farmers to take advantage of combine harvesters provided by the Government.

“We recently lost more than US$900 000 of wheat to veld fires,” he said.

“This will not adversely affect our projected harvest target. However, one cent lost is one cent too much, so we need to avert any more losses going forward.

“Farmers need to utilise the available combine harvesters that were distributed by the Government for wheat harvesting to avoid losses caused by rain.”

Wheat harvesting, he said, was presently in full swing countrywide. According to the Meteorological Services Department, this year’s rainy season is expected to start during the second week of November.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said rainfall compromises the quality of wheat.

“The wheat will no longer be suitable for producing flour but can be used as stockfeed and this will affect our goal of wheat self-sufficiency,” he said.

He urged farmers to finish harvesting as early as possible.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said: “We are in a celebratory mood for having achieved the Government’s targeted hectarage.

“What is left is for farmers to speed up harvesting and avoid losses.

“In all things to do with agriculture, farmers are advised to be on time and work with local experts, who will give advice on the spot.”

Zimbabwe has an annual wheat requirement of about 360 000 tonnes, while this year’s harvest is projected to be above 380 000 tonnes.

The Government deployed over 110 combine harvesters to 20 centres countrywide to facilitate timely harvests.

ZMX lays out wheat trading framework

THE Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange (ZMX), an agricultural commodities trading platform, has put in place the logistical framework for trading wheat by farmers, contractors, and all stakeholders in the grain’s value chain.

This follows a joint announcement between the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on the modalities for the 2022 wheat trading.

This comes as Zimbabwe is this year expected to realise its biggest harvest of the staple grain. Farmers across the country are expected to deliver a combined 380000 tonnes, representing an 80 000-tonnes increase from 2021and 20 000 more tonnes than the national requirement.

ZMX highlighted that all self-financed farmers and contractors who deliver wheat to designated warehouses shall be issued with warehouse receipts in terms of the Warehouse Receipt Act [Chapter 18:25].

The exchange rides on the Warehouse Receipt System (WRS), which is expected to address one of the critical challenges farmers have been facing, poor storage facilities, which resulted in costly post-harvest losses.

However, the Government approved several warehouses across the country including the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots in Aspindale, Banket, Bulawayo, Concession, Chinhoyi, Chegutu, Gweru, Lion’s Den, Magunje, Masvingo, Murehwa and Norton. Other approved warehouses are Bak Storage and S&P Logistics in Harare.

In a circular to stakeholders, ZMX said the warehouse receipt shall be issued in favour of the farmer or contractor.

“However, for Government guaranteed schemes deliveries and issuance of warehouse receipts will only be done through GMB depots. “Each farmer or contractor will be required to open a commodities trading account with ZMX using the *727# USSD short code across all mobile networks, www.zmx.co.zw, or the ZMX mobile app.

“Farmers or contractors shall deliver the wheat to GMB or any of the designated warehouses where the commodity shall be weighed, graded and a warehouse receipt issued in favour of the farmer or contractor,” said ZMX.

Additionally, the trading of wheat shall be in full compliance with SI 188 of 2021, which specifies the terms and conditions for the trading of wheat. The Government has highlighted that self-financed farmers and contractors may trade wheat at market prices and ZMX has the necessary infrastructure to support these trades.

“Those eligible to trade their wheat need to first obtain the necessary grain movement permits from GMB (Grain Marketing Board) if they wish to take the wheat to warehouses other than GMB depots, open ZMX accounts and receive warehouse receipts as above.

Trading in controlled agricultural commodities, including wheat, by either buying or selling without authority from the Government still remains an offence which attracts a penalty. Maize, soya beans, wheat and barley are all on the controlled produce list, which requires farmers to sell only to either the GMB or a contractor who would have financed production.

“Holders of warehouse receipts will be able to deposit the warehouse receipts with any of the participating custodian banks who will facilitate trading on the ZMX exchange,” said ZMX. Zimbabwe anticipates 100 000 hectares of farmland growing wheat next season, which is a 25 percent increase.

The ZMX initiative is a partnership between the Government and the private sector led by Financial and Securities Exchange Limited (FINSEC), TSL Limited and CBZ Holdings. The exchange helps provide farmers with easier access to markets and correct pricing information as well as provide a fair price discovery mechanism and predictable pricing.