Government criminalises side marketing of soya beans

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  • GMB given monopoly in the buying and selling of soya beans
  • Farmers no longer allowed to keep or travel with more than 100kgs of the commodity
  • Fine and prison sentence introduced for contravening new regulations

Harare – Government has criminalised the side marketing of soya beans by contract farmers and introduced a fine of three times the value of the produce that would have been side marketed or imprisonment for not more than two years in the case of a defaulted payment.

“No person or statutory body or company or entity under a contractual obligation to sell to a contractor or to the Grain Marketing Board shall sell or otherwise dispose of any soya beans except to such contractor or to the Grain Marketing Board,” read statutory instrument 97 of 2021, gazetted to outline the new regulations surrounding the sell and purchase of soya beans.

The statutory instrument has also given the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) absolute autonomy to control the sell of soya beans including the time, place and quantities of soya beans sold in all the ten provinces of Zimbabwe as well as absolute rights in the export of the product to outside the country.

“Any soya beans which is required to be sold to the Grain Marketing Board in terms of this section shall be delivered to the Grain Marketing Board at such time, place, and quantities as the Board may direct and under such terms and conditions as the Grain Marketing Board may provide,” the control of soya beans regulations gazette read.

“No person other than the Grain Marketing Board shall export from Zimbabwe soya beans of any quantity or any description until such a date that shall be specified by the Minister by way of notice in the Gazette,” it continued

Furthermore, the new regulations do not allow farmers to keep or transport more than 100kgs of soya beans unless the transportation is intended for a sale at the nearest GMB or unless it is permitted by an “authorised person.”

Worse yet, even self-financed farmers are now roped into selling to authorised buyers which is primarily the GMB.

Market watchers are of the notion that the side marketing of soya beans or any other form of produce emanates from the poor pricing of commodities in the formal market and therefore by criminalizing the act, authorities are trying to increase the flow of the commodity through formal channels.

The side market also presents significant competition for the GMB as it pays entirely in foreign currency while GMB pays in the local currency and as such this may be a ploy to thwart competition and ultimately dictate pricing.

Side marketed produce also tend to be more expensive because of the usual involvement of many middlemen which in turn inflates the price of finished products. So, for instance, soya beans are an important raw material in the production of cooking oil so therefore increasing flow through formal channels will in turn lead to lower price of goods.

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