Grain deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board for the 2016/17 farming season have doubled to 60,000 tonnes compared to the corresponding period, an official told The Source on Thursday.
Farmers started delivering to the GMB in April.
GMB vice chairman, Basilio Sandumo told The Source during a tour of GMB facilities at Aspindale in Harare by members of parliament that grain deliveries have been affected with high moisture content.
“So far we have received 60,000 tonnes of maize which is double the prior season deliveries and we are expecting it to be higher as we reach peak period in July. I believe that by then the moisture content will be low,” said Sandumo.
Zimbabwe this week banned maize imports to protect local farmers after producing enough to meet demand. The country is expecting to harvest more than two million tonnes of grain, more than enough to meet the country’s demand estimated at 1,8 million tonnes, just a year after a drought in the left over four million people in need of food aid.
The GMB is paying $390 per tonne for white maize.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Mechanisation, Secretary for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Mr Ringson Chitsiko, said the GMB should urgently ensure the silos are functional. GMB requires at least $50 million to repair the storage facilities that are crumbling due to years of neglect.
The quality of grain depends on the state of storage facilities so it is imperative for the GMB to ensure it has the best storage facilities. Work on rehabilitating these facilities should start immediately so that it is completed before farmers start delivering the maize to the various depots throughout the country.
GMB is responsible for the storage of strategic grain reserves and relies on Treasury for resources to ensure that the storage facilities are in good state.
Government should therefore prioritise the allocation of resources to the GMB to fund the repair of the nine storage facilities before harvesting starts. It should not allow a situation whereby GMB fails to provide adequate storage facilities for the delivered maize thereby compromising quality.