Treasury has mobilised resources to buy grain from farmers and has set up a procurement committee bringing together Government and the private sector to ensure that Zimbabwe benefits from the bumper harvest expected this season, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube told the National Assembly on Wednesday during the Question and Answer session.
Legislators wanted to know if Government had mobilised enough resources to buy grain.
“We have set up a grain procurement committee comprising my Ministry and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement. We have also included the private sector like millers.
“We meet every week. The grain purchase programme has started. We have an outlay of over $2 billion and it is going on well,” said Prof Ncube.
Millers were also buying grain under an agreed system, but will do so through the Grain Marketing Board to avoid any possibility of side-marketing.
Turning to tobacco, Prof Ncube said he will investigate why there has been a delay in settling payments after farmers delivered their crop.
“Complaints have been raised that tobacco farmers, mostly women, were sleeping at auction floors for two weeks waiting for their money.
“Tobacco farmers are our special farmers. I am unhappy that payment is taking long, like two weeks. It was brought to my attention and we are looking at it. I will engage the central bank to resolve this problem,” he said.
Prof Ncube said he will soon tour tobacco auction floors to have an appreciation of the challenges and try to comprehensively address them.
He said what ought to be established was whether the problem was with banks, buying firms, or something else.
Cotton farmers were assured that Government will clear the $1,5 billion that remains outstanding from the previous cropping season.