GMB Is Buying Grain At $390 And Selling At $250 Per Tonne, Meaning The Government Body Is Making A $140 Loss Per Tonne.
There Can Never Be A Justification For The Selling Price To Be Lower Than The Buying Price, As This Just Does Not Make Economic Nor Common Sense And It Needs To Be Addressed.
Maize seed waits on the conveyor belt in the seed processing plant at Bidasem, where it is being visually examined and manually sifted by workers, picking out material such as damaged or spoiled seed or pieces of cob. After initial cleaning and sorting, all seed that goes through the plant passes through quality control. If a sample from a batch is found to more have more than 2% impurities, they are either separated out by hand like this or using a gravity table. The batch is then resampled to ensure a clean bill of health to continue processing.
Bidasem is a small seed company based in the central Mexican plains region known as the Bajío. It produces approximately 10,000 bags of maize seed a year, each holding 22.5kg, as well as producing wheat and oat seed and marketing seed of other crops. Despite their small size, Bidasem and similar companies play an important role in improving farmers’ livelihoods. “Our aim is to provide farmers with quality seed at accessible prices, that is adapted to the conditions we have here in the Bajío. It’s a great satisfaction, when farmers achieve the yields they need,” says director general María Esther Rivas.
“Without CIMMYT, we couldn’t exist,” says Rivas. She sells four different maize hybrids, all formed from freely-available CIMMYT parent lines. “Really the most important thing is to produce your own hybrids, and for us it wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have the germplasm from CIMMYT. What we’re currently producing is 100% CIMMYT.” The relationship between Bidasem and CIMMYT is now deepening through participation in the MasAgro initiative, which includes training courses for seed companies and collaborative trials to evaluate the best seed.
Photo credit: X. Fonseca/CIMMYT.
For more on seed production at Bidasem, and CIMMYT’s role in providing the best seed, see CIMMYT’s 2012 e-news story “The seed chain: producing better seed for small farmers,” available online at: http://www.cimmyt.org/en/newsletter/598-2012/1398-the-seed-chain-producing-better-seed-for-small-farmers.
In Spite Of GMB Claiming It Has Controls To Ensure That Only Millers Have Access To Grain At $250, The Reality Is That There Will Be Loopholes And This Opens The Way For Some People — Who Are Obviously Connected To The Government And Zanu PF — To Benefit.
Before Looking At The Economic Fundamentals, It Is Important To Point Out That At $390 Per Tonne, Zimbabwean Grain Is Overpriced And Far More Expensive Than In Other Countries In The Region, Who Are Buying Maize For Almost Half Of What GMB Is Paying.
The Laws Of Supply And Demand Dictate That Where There Is A Surplus, Demand Is Low And The Price Of Grain, Therefore, Must Come Down.
If Reports That Zimbabwe Achieved A Bumper Harvest In The Last Agricultural Season Are True, Then It Follows That The Price Of Grain Cannot Be Maintained At $390, The Same Price During The Previous Season, Where There Was A Drought.
The Problem With Zimbabwe Is That The Government Still Has A Command Approach To The Economy, Where They Want To Set Prices Instead Of Letting Market Forces Decide, Thus, Opening Avenues Of Avarice And Greed.
What GMB Ought To Be Doing Is Buying And Selling Maize At Competitive Prices, So That It Does Not Open The Door For People To Benefit Unduly.
A GMB Spokesman Claimed The Variance In Prices Was Due To A Government Subsidy To Farmers, Which Is A Fair Point, But Then There Should Be Better Ways Of Subsiding Farmers So That The Taxpayer’s Money Is Not Abused.
For Example, Command Agriculture And The Presidential Input Scheme Are All Forms Of Subsidies, Hence, There Is No Need For Farmers To Be Subsidised Right Up To The GMB.
What Is Important Now Is For Zimbabwe To Plug All Loopholes For Corruption And We Are Afraid The Differences In Prices Opens The Door For Graft, Which Could Blow Up Into A Massive Scandal.
The Best Way To Avoid Looting At GMB Is To Ensure That Grain Is Sold And Bought At Market-Determined Prices, As This Will Deter Greed And Corruption