Wheat farmers struggle to get US$12 million from Interbank market

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE’s contract wheat farmers are struggling to access US$12 million from the interbank foreign exchange market, urgently needed for inputs head of the winter cropping season, growers’ coordinator Graham Murdoch has revealed.

Addressing delegates at the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) extra ordinary meeting Friday, Murdoch said that the farmers have not received anything from the interbank foreign currency facility.

“Although we have secured the majority of the inputs required for the winter planting season which begins early next week, it is important to highlight that at this point in time we have not been able to secure foreign currency through the interbank system,” he said.

He said that the farmers had since resorted to making arrangements with the suppliers for them to release the inputs on the understanding that they we will be able to secure the foreign currency and pay later.

“We have also approached the relevant authorities on the matter and they have given us assurances that they are working on it,” said Murdoch said.

The farmers representative added that the money needed will be used to purchase fertilisers and diesel among other inputs needed in wheat farming. He urged government and the banking sector to prioritise the availability of foreign currency through the interbank system.

Government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last month re-introduced the interbank foreign currency exchange market as well as the re-establishment of bureau de change that ceased to exist at the height of the high-per-inflationary era.

RBZ Government John Mangudya at the time pegged the local RTGS Dollar at 2.5 to the US dollar before it rose to around 2.9 last week.

When fully operational the facility is expected to support business sector’s foreign currency needs.

In a related development, National Foods chief executive, Michael Lashbrook revealed that the country is only left with a month’s supply of local wheat.

He observed that since the Monetary Policy Statement announcement last month, foreign currency support to purchase wheat was no longer coming through and warned that the availability of flour may not be possible if measures are not put in place.