Middlemen are reportedly taking advantage of communal farmers in Masvingo and buying their maize for less than half the prize offered by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

The middlemen capitalize on farmers whose maize still has too much moisture content to be accepted by the GMB and offer ready cash to the desperate farmers.

While the GMB is currently buying maize for $390 per tonne, middlemen are acquiring the grain for $180 from the desperate farmers.

Masvingo Provincial Crop and Livestock Officer, Mr Peter Chamisa said the middlemen are dangling a withered carrot to the farmers, offering them ready cash.

Mr Chamisa said some of the farmers would have been told by the GMB to return at a later date when the moisture content in their grain has come down.

“These middlemen dangle a withered crop in front of the farmers. If the farmers are selling at $180, it means they are making a great loss. If farmers are to make a profit, they need to sell at $390 to the GMB,” he said.

The Agritex official said one of the solutions to this crisis for farmers is for the government to invest in dryers to be used at the GMB so that farmers are not turned away for moisture content.

He also said there is need for GMB to start the marketing season early as farmers will be in need of cash.

Some of the middlemen reportedly show the farmers videos of bank queues, telling them that even if they sell their maize they will have difficulties in accessing their cash.