Govt incentivising farmers to boost production
Harare (New Ziana) –The government has come up with incentives to encourage farmers to grow maize and traditional grains.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said this during a media briefing in the capital on Tuesday to announce the planting prices for strategic commodities for the 2023/24 season.
He said the government now also allows private players to import as much grain as possible as part of preparations to cushion the country from the predicted El Nino effects as well as meeting the target of producing over 1 million metric tons of maize this coming planting season.
As part of the incentives for farmers, Dr Masuka said the planting planning and marketing prices stand to be higher, as the government, in its determination to ensure the nation attained food security, is using a cost plus pricing mechanism when paying farmers.
He said the government is using a 15 percent return and a yield of 5.55 metric tons per hectare for maize.
“And using this, we arrive at US$335.03 per metric ton for maize and for the determination of sunflower, we use soya bean as the base crop,” he said.
Unlike the prevailing situation where soya bean is regarded as a feed crop, the government treats it as predominantly an oil seed, as it has an 18 percent oil content, whilst sunflower boasts of over 30 percent oil content, and is suited to the small-holder sector dry areas.
“So it really fits in the rural transformation model that Government is propagating, and using this arrangement, the sunflower prize is US$654.34 per metric ton. So the incentive arrangements that we have are as follows; first, for the 2023/24 season, the incentive planning prize for maize of US$335.03 per metric ton should be sufficient in motivating to allow us to secure the one million metric tons-plus of maize into the grain Marketing Board (GMB),” he said.
Dr Masuka said the second aspect was granting of permission for private players to import maize with immediate effect, in view of the predicted El Nino, to build national stocks.
He said thirdly, households will continue to import mealie meal while the two Ministries of Agriculture and Industry will be working out the detailed modalities with the Ministry of Finance and Investment Promotion, to see what quantities per household that means, so that commercial consignments are excluded from the arrangement.
The 2023/24 season incentive planning price for traditional grains is US$335.03, which Dr Masuka said is the same as maize, and he urged all small-holder farmers to go for such crops, also in light of the predicted lower than normal season.
The sunflower incentive planning planting price has been pegged at US$654.37 per metric ton, whilst the importation of soya bean by private players has also been granted with immediate effect.
Dr Masuka said the last incentive was to ensure that the private sector provides regular returns on imports, stocks and local purchases of strategic commodities so that both the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, fisheries, Water and Rural Development and that of Finance and Investment Promotion have a clearer real time statistics of national food availability, with a Statutory Instrument (SI) for this in the pipeline.
He said of the four farmer categories, those with their own resources are recognized as contractors in their own right, whilst those that are contracted by the private sector with 40 percent of what the raw material users utilised in a year should be secured through contract financing.
“So if you a miller, if you are a bread producer, you must not think that the GMB is your land, you must secure 40 percent of your annual raw material requirement from contracting farmers out there and the private sector has come in very strongly to assist government and we thank them for that,” he said.
On the issue of the Government Guarantee Schemes, formally Command Agriculture, but now called National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme, Dr Masuka said the government has put in place unique and peculiar marketing arrangements to these various contracting schemes as the country moves into a structured liberalisation of marketing systems to ensure that it crowds in the private sector.