Hurungwe East legislator Ngoni Masenda said maize farmers are being grossly short-changed as they are realising only US$165 per tonne, which is enough to buy only two bags of Compound D fertiliser when they require seven bags of Compound D fertiliser and another seven bags of AN per hectare.
Masenda argued that since the country had adopted a multi-currency system farmers should be paid in US dollars with the current Zimbabwe dollar component being converted at the prevailing bank rate.
Zimbabwe currently pays farmers US$90 plus $75 000. Masenda said the black market rate is now $1 000 to the US dollar which means they get an extra US$75 to make it a total of US$165.
The Zimbabwe dollar is currently pegged at $416.2890 at the auction rate, US$434.0519 at the interbank rate and ranges from $600 to $950 on the black market depending on the mode of payment.
Masenda did not say how many tonnes of maize farmers get per hectare but government data says they get 1.39 tonnes per hectare.
HON. MASENDA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am and good afternoon. My point of national interest is centered on the production and sale of agricultural products with particular reference on the production of maize.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I feel maize being our staple food is not being given the priority it deserves in terms of the buying price being offered to the farmers. The buying price for maize as it stands now is USD90.00 plus RTGS75 000.00 per tonne of maize which translates to USD90.00 plus USD75.00 having converted the RTGS component to USD using the parallel market rate which now stands at USD1 to RTGS1 000.00. I have had to use the parallel market rate because most farmers do not have access to the foreign currency auction that operates under the Reserve Bank. The total buying price Madam Speaker Ma’am, therefore, stands at USD165.00 per tonne.
It therefore means that the farmer can only buy two bags of Compound D after having sold one tonne of maize. To grow one hectare of maize, a farmer requires 350 kg or seven bags of compound D and another seven bags of AN per hectare.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, producing maize is no longer viable and not sustainable to the farmer. To explain clearly, let me use what I may term…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Masenda, remember it has to be one minute, you are now debating.
HON. MASENDA: Okay, I will cut it short and go to my prayer. I pray Madam Speaker Ma’am that the authorities consider paying maize or pegging the price in US dollars as we have embraced the multi-currency system. I therefore propose that the buying price be pegged in US dollars, with USD90 being paid in hard currency as our economy has embraced a multi-currency system and the balance being paid in RTGs, payable at the bank rate of the day. I wish to thank you Hon. Speaker Ma’am.