Buying maize below producer price a criminal offence

Companies and individuals buying maize from growers below this year’s producer price of US$390 per tonne will be fined or imprisoned for up to three months under new regulations announced by Government on Friday.

The measures come as some traders are taking advantage of desperate farmers to purchase grain at as little as US$200 per tonne.

According to Statutory Instrument 122 of 2014, Agriculture Marketing Authority Regulations (Minimum Grain Producer Prices)2014, the Agriculture Minister may announce the minimum producer price of maize, sorghum, pearl millet (mhunga), finger millet (rapoko) and wheat at the beginning of the marketing season.

Every grain purchaser shall transact with the grower and at Grain Marketing Board depots or contractors’ premises in the case of contract farming.

The regulations also give Ama leeway to designate additional buying points from which producers will sell their grain to registered buyers.

The SI reads in part: “Any company or individual that engages in the buying of grain from producers at the price less than the minimum price or designated buying point shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or both such fine and such imprisonment with the grain so purchased forfeited to the State.”

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