ZIMBABWE – As the government seeks to add policy direction to farmers’ operations, the state has announced planning prices for strategic commodities such as maize and traditional grains for the 2023/24 summer season.

Dr. Anxious Masuka, the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister who revealed the strategic move during a press conference in Harare said the pricing system being proposed was consistent with achieving both food and nutrition security.

He added that the move would also spearhead the macro-economic stability against the predicted El Niño prone season.

According to officials, the recommended incentive planning price for maize and traditional grains has been pegged at US$335 per tonne with the average import parity for maize at US$331 per tonne.

Dr. Masuka elaborated that the model uses a yield assumption of 5. 55 tonnes per hectare for a farmer committing inputs in the ranges highlighted in the maize budget.

In addition, the model follows that the major cost factor is the fertilizer which takes about 36. 4 percent of the production cost of maize at US$1. 617 per hectare per hectare.

Minister Masuka went further to announce the prices for soya beans and sunflower at a 15 percent rate of return, for a yield of 2, 5 tonnes per hectare.

Soya beans are pegged at US$569 with the import parity price ranging between US$415 and US$639 per tonne. The sunflower price was pegged at US$654 per tonne.

In its push to build the national stocks in line with the predicted El Niño, the Government has allowed private players to import maize and soya beans.

This is part of efforts to liberalize the marketing system to accommodate the private sector, which plays an important role in our economy as a country,” said Dr Masuka.

He added that his Ministry would be working out detailed modalities to determine the quantities of grain needed per household so that commercial consignments are excluded from this arrangement

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube who also attended the conference added that the involvement of private players was meant to ensure reliable supplies of food, proposing that the private players can import maize and soya beans duty-free.

They should hop in now as prices may go up in the region due to the El Nino. “In the event that El Niño strikes, we are assuring the nation that there will be adequate food supplies with subsidized mealie meals,” said Prof Ncube

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe added that the prices protected farmers from being exploited and that they should not go down less than they currently are because they were arrived at after considering the input costs farmers incur.

For all the latest grains industry news from Africa, the Middle East and the World, subscribe to our weekly NEWSLETTERS, follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel