Saturday, September 18, 2021

Command Agriculture farmers cry foul

Stephen Ephraem
CHIPINGE – Farmers who were contracted
under the Command Maize Programme in Chipinge East are crying foul over
exorbitant charges by transporters and mobile money agents when they deliver
their produce to Chipinge Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depot.
This came out at
an area agricultural show that was held at Muzite Primary School where a record
of over 76 communal farmers from Muzite and Gwenzi communal lands exhibited
their agricultural produce.
“We are being
fleeced by transporters who are charging between $7 and $15 per 50kg bag of
maize from here to town. The charges are too high considering that people here
do not have enough resources owing to Tropical Cyclone Idai which affected us
in March this year,” said one farmer Simba Mahaka.
Nancy Tafataona indicated
that farmers were also being swindled by mobile money agents who are charging
30 percent to get access to cash.
“This area is so
remote that whenever one tries to get cash, mobile money agents deduct
additional charges. We wish if GMB could consider paying us with cash,” said
Chipinge East
Agritex Supervisor one Musinaki expressed concern over the high transport costs
and percentages in accessing cash.
“It’s true that
transporters are charging high prices to ferry maize to GMB. They cite poor
roads from Gwenzi and Muzite as well as black market fuel prices as factors
that makes them charge high fares.
“As for mobile
money agents, they are taking advantage of the cash crunch in the country so
whoever has hard cash dictates the pace.
“The exorbitant
charges have a negative effect on maize deliveries to GMB. If unregistered
buyers come and flash hard cash to the farmers, they might be tempted to
deliver the Command maize to them since the farmer would do away with transport
charges and mobile money charges. Something must be done as soon as possible
before the situation goes out of hand,” said Musinaki.

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