HON. MARKHAM: My supplementary question is on the issue of Pfumvudza Programme and yields. The Minister of Agriculture said the country has about 2.2 to 2.4 million tonnes of maize coming in. The farmers will benefit from this provided they get paid. Can the Minister guarantee that the payment will be done in 5 days as stated by the Minister and secondly on the social responsibility side, can he also guarantee that the money is in place to buy the whole crop that has been produced this year?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I thank Hon Markham for giving me the opportunity to explain our grain procurement programme that we have put in place. This is the price of success, when we have been so successful in our agricultural programme; now we have to worry about to buying those crops. We have set up a Grain Procurement Committee which comprises Treasury, Ministry of Agriculture and a Technical Committee. We have given that role to be co-chaired by my deputy Hon Chiduwa and also the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hon Haritatos. We have also included in the Grain Purchase Committee, the private sector, the millers, bankers and oil expressers because it cuts across different crops. We meet every week on a Monday at 9am without fail. If we fail, we move it to another day during that week but we try to meet every week. We are very organised about this.
The grain purchase programme has started and there are two sources of resources. One is Treasury resources in the normal way that we support GMB to purchase this grain and the money circulates like that. So far we have outlaid just over $2bn and it is going on well. The deliveries are going on well and we want to stay within the short and prescribed period in terms of payment. There is also another leg which is the private sector itself through this coordination committee that we have set up. They are able to then buy from GMB extending their resources through a prepayment arrangement for the grain. We have tried hard to make sure that GMB remains the sole buyer so as to avoid side marketing. Most of these farmers, especially those who have come through the commercial old Command Agriculture Programme, have loans with banks. So we want to make sure that they pay back their loans and the debt collection structure is set up around GMB. That is why GMB is being used as the conduits for purchases.
We have a structure in place and I can assure you that we are on our way to make sure that we can support the farmers paying on time. In the banking sector alone, in terms of private resources, we have liquidity of up to $60bn. Already we have supported AMA to the tune of $20bn within that kind of arrangement and then there is Treasury resources. We have adequate resources to see this through and make sure that everyone benefits from this bumper harvest of this year.
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