By Lloyd Takawira Features Writer
With a dejected voice of despair and hopelessness, sandwiched by his two bemused grandchildren Sekuru Magoronga who is prided by the whole community as the best farmer shakes his head as he narrated his farming misfortunes for the past years.
“Makore maviri aya handisati ndamboona zvakadai, kurimira pasina zvoti GMB mari hainyatsobude, zvoti makoronyera gore rino,” narrated the grey haired Sekuru Magoronga.
A visit by this reporter to Mashonaland West and some parts of Manicaland revealed that rural farmers were starting to feel the heat of COVID-19 induced hardships.
For Sekuru Magoronga farming has been his sole source of income however for the past years all his plans have diminished.
He narrated how he lost most of his cattle to menacing cattle disease and the subsequent coronavirus which has seen desperate farmers like him selling their grain crops to generate money to feed families.
A number of farmers are falling prey to unscrupulous grain buyers who are paying a paltry $5 400 per tonne of maize and $9 000 for soya bean, which is way less than the gazetted prices.
Farmers in most parts of Mashonaland West Province, including Makonde, Karoi and Hurungwe districts and Manicaland districts such as Buhera and Chipinge are losing over half of the potential revenue from their crops to some “middlemen”.
At Makonde business centre, a truckload of maize en route to Harare for the quick green bank is about to disembark. The dealer (name withheld) says “my brother this is Zimbabwe, Harare hakuna hupfu, I’m a Miller so ndonogaya hupfu ndo maker mari, hupenyu hunoda kungwavha ngwavha munin’ina” says the jovial buyer .
Mr Mutusa a small scale commercial farmers in Karoi said “Despite paying more, GMB takes up to a month to process payments, a period that farmers say is long especially during this lockdown period when they require some goods to feed families. I’m compelled to sell to these middlemen at a cheap rate so that l survive.”
According to Agro Alerts “middlemen, grain buyers are using manipulated scales which result in farmers losing grain.”
Mr Hardlife Mhembere an Agritex Officer stationed in Chirozva village ward 10 of Buhera West said, “after loosing, our cattle farmers are selling the little grains they have to middlemen to survive, with coronavirus, it means life has not only been hard in urban areas but here also in communal lands.”
Early this year government pegged the producer price for maize at $12 329,72 and $17 211,74 for soya bean, with traditional grains at $12 865, 79 per tonne.