The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is a state owned commodity trading enterprise that deals in cereals and oil seeds, the provision of logistic services to the agricultural industry as well as processing of products. The board's main objective is to ensure national food security through production, procurement and management of cereals. GMB is often crippled with a myriad of problems ranging from failure to pay workers and alleged corruption. The board's mandate was seriously undermined in 2014 when it encouraged farmers to sell their grain to private buyers since the board was cash strapped.
In 2020, the Operations Director was Lawrence Jasi. (Murwira, Z. GMB executives implicated in grain scam. The Herald, 18 February 2020.)
- To ensure the orderly marketing of controlled agricultural products.
- To buy and sell any controlled product which is delivered to or acquired by it.
- To buy and sell non-controlled grains and oil seeds.
- To provide storage, handling and processing facilities
- Import and export agricultural products as it may consider necessary.
- To provide fumigation, product quality control services and commercial training in grain handling.
- To process and package rice, groundnuts, sugar beans, coffee, nyimo and pop corn at some of its depots.
- To implement the Input Supply Credit Scheme to stimulate agriculture.
- To establish more depots so as to stimulate agricultural products, particularly in the production of small grains. To provide proximity to our stakeholders through establishment.
- To maintain strategic Grain Reserves for Government in line with Government.
Failure to Pay Farmers
GMB has often failed to pay workers leading to lack of confidence in the board. Since 2013, GMB owed farmers an amount of US$6,1 million. The debt had a debilitating effect on the 2013/14 season as farmers were unable to realise their potential due to lack of financing.
In 2014, the board announced that it had no cash to buy grain from farmers and as such it encouraged farmers to sell to private buyers. The Ministry of Agriculture said GMB was not allocated a single cent in the 2013/2014 national budget. The announcement came at a time when some farmers had already threatened to sell to private buyers. This was after GMB's announcement of the new producer price which the Manicaland Province farmers described as meagre. The 2014-2015 maize producer price was pegged at US$390 per tonne and farmers vowed to sell to private millers who were offering between US$450 and US$500 per tonne.
In 2014 the GMB top management was fingered in a looting spree as the company struggled to service a $108 million maize import debt. The parastatal's general manager Albert Mandizha and his two deputies, allegedly took personal possession of luxury company cars without remitting payment to GMB. Mandizha allegedly took possession of an Isuzu, Toyota Prado and a Jeep Cherokee in 2013, acquired by the GMB. The vehicles, worth more than $250 000, have remained unaccounted for, while only $860 was paid out for one of the cars. The management was also involved in the Salarygate scandal where it was reported that some of the bosses allegedly earned more than US$50 000.
The GMB is mentioned on p26 Cartel Power Dynamics in Zimbabwe under the Case Study 3 The Agriculture Cartels.
Millers, companies that process maize into maize meal, were allowed to purchase maize from SOE GMB at a substantially low price. (In November 2019 when the subsidy was ended, this price - ZW$2,000 per tonne - was half the price at which GMB bought maize from farmers - ZW$4,000 per tonne -.) Government spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this subsidy. (World Bank. 2019. Zimbabwe Public Expenditure Review with a Focus on Agriculture. World Bank, 21)
To gain the 'rent', millers could: 1) sell the subsidised maize back to GMB and receive double what they had paid; 2) sell the maize on the informal market; 3) export the maize to neighbouring countries such as DRC and Mozambique for foreign currency; or 4) produce
high end products from the subsidised maize.
This was partly involved with Command Agriculture.
- Grain Marketing Board compromising farmers' operations: Made, 'Bulawayo', Published: 3 Jan 2014, Retrieved: 22 May 2014
- Don’t wait for GMB: farmers told, 'Chronicle', Published: 22 May 2014, Retrieved: 22 May 2014
- Manicaland farmers threaten not to sell maize to GMB, 'Bulawayo 24', Published: 3 May 2014, Retrieved: 22 May 2014
- Helen Kadirire, GMB bosses in looting spree, 'DailyNews', Published: 12 Feb 2014, Retrieved: 22 May 2014
- Government Finally Acts on Parastatal Bosses, 'News DzeZimbabwe', Published: 16 Jan 2014, Retrieved: 22 May 2014