Chief warns against ‘sweet-talking’ grain merchants

Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Chief Tshovani of Chiredzi has criticised grain buyers who have invaded his area and are enticing villagers to go for the low prices they offer because they are buying in cash. Speaking after a tour of his 65-hectare plot which is under sorghum last week, Chief Tshovani said the middlemen were a big challenge in the area.

He said the grain dealers were offering poor prices to farmers who were preparing to sell their grain to the Grain Marketing Board for a huge profit margin, as the parastatal is paying $390 per tonne.

“We have started receiving dubious dealers who are offering farmers cash for their maize and sorghum,” said Chief Tshovani. “My message to villagers is that anyone found trading in grain with the illegal dealers would be punished because the same people will cause problems for us when hunger knocks on their doors after selling all their grain for almost nothing.

“Our prayer is that GMB will pay us as soon as possible. This year is our year. Most villagers under my jurisdiction took heed to the calls we made with the help of the people from Agritex who urged us to focus more on the production of small grains.”

Chief Tshovani said he will deliver more than 120 tonnes of sorghum to the GMB this year.

“As a leader, you have to be exemplary,” he said. “I had to devote greater piece of my farm towards sorghum production and this has been so for many seasons.

“In the 2015-16 season I managed to deliver 18 tonnes to GMB despite the drought we faced as a district. In 2014, I delivered 54 tonnes and this year I intend to deliver the 120 tonnes and the rest I will keep for my own consumption.”

Chief Tshovani challenged seed companies to continue investing in research in small grains as the Lowveld heavily depended on them.

“The greatest challenge we face is the unavailability of treated seeds in most shops in our area,” he said. “Farmers tend to grow sorghum from their silos and this impacts negatively on their yield per hectare.”