Transport Minister Dennis Norman’s visit to South Africa last month was not only aimed at arranging transport for Zimbabwe’s maize imports but also to persuade the South Africans to loan Zimbabwe some maize, The Insider understands.
Norman proposed that the Grain Marketing Board be given some Transvaal stocks which would then be replaced by Argentinean and United States maize when it arrived but the South Africans considered their situation too serious to be worth the risk.
A similar proposal was also made to local commercial farmers but they said they could only participate if they were paid $1 500 a tonne which is the equivalent of the current import blend cost.
The producer price of maize is only $550 a tonne and the government was not prepared to pay this higher rate accusing the framers of trying to cash in on the catastrophe.
Commercial farmers on one hand claim that their total maize production is expected to be only 280 000 tonnes this year. With approximately two million people working and living on the commercial farms they say they will require 300 000 tonnes of maize until the next harvest.
They say, however, they are prepared to assist the government to meet the shortfall on the understanding that they would subsequently buy back that maize if they require it at a later date.
Although the farmers said this should be viewed as a short-term emergency exercise which would only apply for specified period required to bridge the shortfall, it is difficult to rule out entirely the element of trying to cash in on the present shortage which they squarely blame on “successive years of poor viability and unheeded warnings and appeals to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.”