IN the wake of recent developments that have seen prices of farming inputs increase significantly farmer organizations have approached government to consider paying a portion of the producer prices in foreign currency.
Already government through the recent monetary policy statement indicated that tobacco and cotton growers whose crop is predominantly for the export market will be allowed to retain 20% of their income in foreign currency.
The move has spurred growers of non export crops such as wheat and maize to approach government as they believe a foreign currency incentive will cushion them against the price volatility currently in the market and ensure they return to the field for the summer crop.
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Andrew Pascoe speaking at the Zimbabwe Wheat Board conference said receiving a portion of their payments in foreign currency will enable them to operate viably and help them buy and maintain farm equipment.
“Farmers need to be paid in foreign currency for a portion of their delivery and a portion of the money spent imports should be channeled into the nostro account of local farmers. Government has to reduce cushion to cushion to consumers and ensure we produce at reasonable prices and sell at reasonable prices”
His sentiments were also echoed by Federation of farmers’ Union president Wonder Chabikwa who said receiving a portion of their payment in forex would go a long way in ensuring farmer viability.
However, deputy minister for agriculture Vangelis Haritatos said though farmers had brought the issue to his attention and while government appreciated their concerns it was unlikely to accede to their request.
“I did meet the farmers recently and discussed the issue and I informed the minister and he will consult the president. We appreciate their concerns over the recent development in the market but we feel these price increases are artificial and we need to resolve the real issues.
We cannot continue to provide subsidies as this is not sustainable we need self sustainability. At the end of the day we should allow market forces to prevail” said Haritatos.