By Peter Mudzimiri
The Government, through the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development recently promulgated amendments to the control of the sale of maize regulations, through the gazette of the Grain Marketing (Control of Sale of Maize) (Amendment) Regulations, 2023 (No.1) (Statutory Instrument 56 of 2023).
The new law enunciates the current Government policy on the marketing of maize as previously announced. It is important, at the outset, to note that the sale of maize remains controlled. However, some flexibility has been introduced as shall be explained in this article in line with the agricultural transformation agenda.
Financing of production and contracting
As previously provided in our previous instalments, the marketing of grains and maize, in particular, is based on the respective production scheme. The four basic forms of financing maize production still apply that is contract farming by private contractors, Government-supported programme – Pfumvudza/Intwasa, National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS) (formerly known as Command Agriculture) and self-financed production.
The definition of a contractor has been amended to include the Government (through its agencies, arms or organs) and individuals, entities, companies or other persons registered by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) as a contractor in a given agricultural season.
Authorised agencies involved in the collection, storing, distribution or marketing of agricultural products now include the Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange (ZMX). The ZMX is a corporate body registered in terms of the company laws of Zimbabwe which operates within the rules set out in the Agricultural Marketing Authority (Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange) Rules, 2021 and provides an automated trading platform for agricultural products based on the warehouse receipt system. Effectively, the ZMX can now participate in the marketing of maize on terms and conditions provided in the law.
The regulations now define self-financed farmers, who basically are those farmers that use their own free funds to finance the production of maize and are not a party to any Government scheme or private contracting arrangement. Self-financed farmers must be registered with the Agricultural Marketing Authority to enable them to market their maize crop.
Only registered contractors and producers or their authorised agents are eligible to sell or dispose of maize. Maize must be sold to either the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) or to the contractor who financed the production. The selling of maize to the Grain Marketing Board shall be on terms and conditions approved by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development. The Grain Marketing Board is not bound to accept any maize delivered by any person other than a producer, a self-financed farmer or a contractor.
However, self-financed farmers (who can either be individuals, companies, statutory bodies or other entities) may dispose of maize through certified warehouses registered by the ZMX, to the Grain Marketing Board, to registered contractors or to processors. The Government may limit the maximum quantity that may be accessed by processors from registered self-financed farmers from time to time. All maize sold to the Grain Marketing Board shall be delivered in a manner specified by the GMB from time to time.
Acquisition/buying of maize
No individual or entity is allowed to buy or acquire maize from any farmer or producer except directly from the contracted farmer or through the Grain Marketing Board. Thus, lawful buying of maize means acquisition by a registered contractor directly from the financed producer or farmer or by the registered contractor from a self-financed farmer. In addition, registered self-financed farmers can also buy maize from a certified warehouse registered by ZMX, from the GMB or from a maize producer with whom the self-financed farmer has contracted to produce the maize. In the latter case, the self-financed farmer is required to register beforehand, as a contractor with the Agricultural Marketing Authority for this purpose.
Where registered contractors buy maize from self-financed farmers, they are required to segregate such maize and account for it separately from their normal contracted crop. Details of the self-financed farmers must be recorded and the amount and price of the maize bought. Any maize acquired for use as seed shall not be disposed of for any other purpose except with written permission of the GMB.
Transportation of maize
A producer or farmer is still allowed to freely transport not more than five bags (maximum 50kg per bag) within Zimbabwe. A producer may only transport maize in excess of the five bags where the maize is being delivered to GMB or as authorised by the Government through nominated agencies including the ZMX which is now recognized as an authorised agency.
The GMB is now empowered to ensure swift movement of all maize produced under contracting farming, through self-financing, by contractors or their transporter agents through the issuance of movement permits, upon application, for a fee of US$10.00 or equivalent in local currency per vehicle used in the movement of the maize. Permits can either be virtual or issued in material form and must specify validity, routes to be taken, the quantity of maize being moved and the destinations.
Importation of maize
With effect from May 8, 2023, only the Grain Marketing Board is authorised to export maize from Zimbabwe until the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development specifies otherwise.
All stakeholders are therefore advised to take note of the changes highlighted in this article to ensure seamless marketing of maize. The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the Grain Marketing Board, the Agricultural Marketing Authority and the Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange remain available to assist with any issues arising from the 2022/2023 agricultural marketing season.
This article was written by Peter Mudzimiri, AMA Head of Compliance and Corporate Secretary. Word from the market is a column produced by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) to promote market-driven production. Feedback email@example.com or WhatsApp/Call +263781706212.