Hurungwe East legislator Takundwa Masenda (ZANU PF) has challenged the government to consider paying maize farmers in foreign currency saying they are committing themselves to feed the nation.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Masenda said the money currently being paid to farmers by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for their maize is too little. He said:
My point of national interest is centred on the production and sale of agricultural products with particular reference to the production of maize.
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 US$90 plus RTGS75 000 per tonne of maize, which translates to US$90 plus US$75 having converted the RTGS component to United States dollars using the parallel market rate which now stands at US$1 to RTGS1 000.
I have had to use the parallel market rate because most farmers do not have access to the foreign currency auction system that operates under the Reserve Bank.
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 350kg or seven bags of Compound D and another seven bags of AN (ammonium nitrate) per hectare.
Producing maize is no longer viable and not sustainable for the farmer. To explain clearly, the authorities (must) consider paying maize or pegging the price in United States dollars as we have embraced the multi-currency system.
I, therefore, propose that the buying price be pegged in US dollars, with US$90 being paid in hard currency as our economy has embraced a multi-currency system and the balance being paid in RTGS at the bank rate of the day.