Zimra tightens screws at Beitbridge

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Trucks, mainly those carrying goods known as consolidated cargo, where a single load has multiple owners, have been piling up at Beitbridge Border Post in the last five days after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority introduced the 100-percent compliance searches to smash what it believes is rampant smuggling.

Cross border transporters, commonly known as omalayitsha, yesterday accused Zimra of implementing the new system without thoroughly preparing for it.

The omalayitsha share a truck to combine their small loads and it is precisely these arrangements where Zimra believes there are many openings for smuggling.

Over 70 trucks were at the border on the commercial arrival side and the drivers had become restless.

In separate interviews, the truckers said Zimra did not have adequate manpower to conduct the physical examination of goods.

They said in some cases, they were made to pay additional duty despite having used the pre-clearance system to minimise delays.

Under the pre-clearance system, goods are declared and duty is paid before the consignment gets to the port of entry.

Once these goods arrive, they are only checked for compliance, making the crossing seamless. This is opposed to be a scenario where the whole clearance process is done upon arrival at the country’s borders.

“I have been here for four days; nothing is moving and most of us are carrying groceries, among them perishables,” said Mr Aron Mangavha. “Customs authorities want to search every vehicle and we don’t have any problem with that.

“Our concerns arise from the fact that they are searching between two and three trucks daily, which is not sustainable.”

Another driver who preferred anonymity said they had tried to engage the local Zimra managers in the last three days without success.

“This is antagonising our relationship with clients considering that declarations are made in advance and we have to go back to them asking for top ups,” said the driver.

Mr Nyasha Machaya said previously they would spend less than three hours to conclude all the border processes, adding that the new regulations had seen them incurring extra costs in hiring labour to offload and reload the goods,since Zimra did not have adequate manpower. “To make matters worse, we are at risk of Covid-19 infections as you can see we are now crowded with limited ablution and related sanitation facilities,” he said.

Zimra spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda, could not readily respond to the issues yesterday, but an official at Beitbridge said the 100 percent searches were a response to the rampant cases of smuggling involving omalayitsha.–herald.cl.zw

Expensive stockfeed milking small dairy farmers
Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
Small scale dairy farmers in Mutasa are struggling to increase production owing to expensive stockfeed for their cows and unavailability of nearby water sources.

The farmers say most feed companies have pegged their prices in US dollars, making the local currency equivalent expensive for many.

Tsonzo Dairy Farmers Association chairman Mr Washington Sagonda said while some companies were offering farmers a subsidy on stockfeed, the prices they were getting were still very high since they were pegged using the black market rate, instead of the official bank rate.

He said a 40kg bag was being sold for US$12.50 or $1 500. Those buying at a subsidised price were paying $1 350.

Calculated using the official rate, the price is equivalent to about $1 050.

Besides feed, Mr Sagonda said prices for dipping, chemicals as well as vaccines were also pegged in foreign currency.

“Feed is expensive and not every farmer can afford this. If we could access forex using the bank rate, we would be getting feed at a cheaper price, but as it is, even the subsidised price is more expensive than the US dollar price.

“And we cannot afford to buy it on the black market. As a result, our cows are not getting as much feed as they should be getting and we have seen a significant decline in production figures,” he said.

Mr Sagonda said early this year, farmers were producing about 900 litres of milk per day, but that figure had gone down to about 690 litres per day.

The milk is being sold to Dairibord at $35 per litre.

Mr Sagonda said to break even, farmers should get at least $50 per litre but as things stand, most are making losses.

For this season, he said the association has managed to buy inputs for their farmers using part of the revolving fund to ensure everyone plants grain for fodder.

However, the available inputs can only cover 18 hectares of land instead of the 40 hectares required to produce enough fodder for the association members’ herd.

Mr Sagonda said individual farmers would have to fund the remaining hectarage themselves, although some might not be able to.

Manicaland has been hit by successive droughts over the past two seasons, which have resulted in many water sources drying up.

According to the District Development Fund, 152 water points across the province have dried up while another 143 are no longer yielding as much water.

The unavailability of water has severely affected milk production because cows have to walk long distances to access drinking water.

“Dairy cows are not supposed to walk long distances for water, the more kilometres they walk the less milk they produce,” said Mr Sagonda. “But because most of the nearby water sources have dried, we have no choice but to make them walk.”

The association received a US$29 000 grant from the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), which was set up into a revolving fund to drill boreholes for all 39 members.

This year, 10 farmers benefited from the fund and have started utilising water to grow their own fodder.

The association is targeting to drill at least four boreholes for its members every year until everyone has a water source at their farm.

“If a farmer has readily available water, they can reduce the amount of stockfeed they buy as they will be growing their own maize and grass.We hope that the revolving fund will continue to support all our farmers,” said Mr Sagonda.–herald.cl.zw

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