LOCAL NEWS

Farmers to recieve “Backdated” GMB payments

Farmers who delivered their grain to the Grain Marketing Board before the latest producer price was announced will receive “back pay”, an official has confirmed.

Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro said the payment would assist farmers in preparing for the new farming season.

“Yes, farmers will receive back pay and this will enable them to go back to the land. The adjustments will be paid to farmers who delivered their grains starting April 1,” he said.

Government recently increased maize and traditional grains producer prices from $2 100 to $4 000 per tonne and some farmers who were waiting for their payments were concerned after receiving payments pegged at the old price.

Maize farmers have also complained of delays in the payment of the grain at depots which they said were hampering their preparations for the 2019/2020 season.

The farmers complained that the delays in payments affected them as inputs prices were always going up.

GMB acting chief executive Mr Lawrence Jasi said GMB was paying farmers as soon as it received money from Treasury.

He also confirmed that some GMB depots were experiencing power challenges which were affecting payments while some delays were caused by farmers who gave inaccurate details.

“Farmers are being paid as soon as GMB receives money from Treasury. The period can be anything from within a week after delivery.

“GMB does online payments and delays are sometimes caused by the depots having no electricity which also affects our network. While we recognise that the problem of electricity is a national one, as GMB we have installed generators and in some cases solar-generated electricity in most of our depots.

“Inaccurate submission of banking details by farmers or dormant accounts can also cause delays in some cases,” he said.

He said in the case of a producer price increment, GMB got a directive from Government on back pay.

“GMB gets guidance through the parent ministry on the payment of back pay. All farmers are entitled to back pay following such directives from the parent ministry,” he said.

Some farmers have been complaining of GMB officials who solicit bribes to effect early payments for grain delivered. The GMB said it had put in place measures to ensure there was no corruption at its depots.

“The payment process is computerised, and all payment stages are monitored via the ERP system and any delays in processing these have to be explained to the executive.

“This monitoring report is generated daily, and as such, the depot manager has no room to delay farmer payments.

“GMB has a zero tolerance against corruption and as such it is working with Deloitte, a reputable security company that provides a Tip-offs Anonymous facility with the following toll-free numbers; 0800 4100/4101.Customers are encouraged to report any untoward activities on this number to ensure all such vices are nipped in the bud,” he said.

He said the partnership also led to GMB calling for staff to declare their interests.

Mr Jasi encouraged farmers to deliver their grain to the GMB as the producer price was viable while farmers were assured of early payments.

“Government this year has increased the producer price more than once as it aims to ensure that farmers derive maximum value from their sweat.

“We have also put in place other strategies to assist farmers to deliver grain to GMB.

“GMB opened collection points to cut down on logistical costs, and back paid farmers for the last two increments of the producer price,” he said.

Mr Jasi said the parastatal had also provided farmers with empty bags on stop order facility and also assisted with transport in some instances.

The GMB is the sole buyer of maize this year following Government classification of the commodity as a controlled product.

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