The announcement of grain imports by GMAZ is thus meant to plug the shortfall which GMAZ faces, for its members to meet 40 percent of their grain requirements, in line with the aforementioned policy.
This is not a Government grain import programme. For the record and for the avoidance of any doubt, Government is yet to take decision to import grain. As I will show later, our grain stocks are enough to meet national food requirements.
With regards to measures we have announced in respect of grain movements in the country this marketing season, the goal is to ensure all farmers contracted by Government through selected banks to produce grains do deliver their harvests to our Grain Marketing Board, GMB, which is the sole agency for collecting all grain funded by Government under that contract scheme. Inputs supplied to farmers under this scheme are guaranteed by Government. That means any defaults by contracted farmers make Government liable as the sole guarantor. In reality, this means the taxpayer ends up assuming an undeserved debt burden. This must be avoided.
Past experience has revealed that a number of farmers deliberately default by circumventing terms of their contract. Instead of delivering produce to GMB, they side-market their produce to private buyers, both directly, or through third parties to beat traceability. That way the stop-order facility put in place for cost recovery, and managed through GMB, is rendered nugatory.
The other trick is stocking up harvests on the farm until the end of marketing season, to then dispose stocks through side marketing after the marketing season.
All these tricks are fraudulent, and expectedly invite the harsh hand of the law. Worse, they spoil things for genuine farmers who abide by terms of their contracts. For Government, the unhappy result is high default rate, often amidst a glut in grain supply to GMB. This means the burden shifts to the taxpayer.
I am aware that farmers who self-sponsor feel hard done by because of these restrictive marketing measures we have adopted, which are designed to curtail and stop side marketing.
Yet Government has provided a way out for such self-sponsored farmers. Farmers falling outside Government-guaranteed producer contracts can retain or freely market their grain to markets of their choice by getting exemption permits from GMB. Such permits clear them to move grain as they see fit, but within the country.
Government expects everyone to appreciate that grains which are at the heart of our national food security are controlled products.
Government, too, expects everyone to appreciate that grain produced under Government-guaranteed contracts must go through GMB to minimise Government liability.
It is in everyone’s interest that the input cost-recovery process is efficient and tight enough to allow no loopholes. I hope this clarifies the second matter, thus putting it to rest.
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