via GMB needs $150m – DailyNews Live by Mugove Tafirnenyika 12 MARCH 2014
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) needs over $150 million to bankroll the purchase of grain from farmers as well as paying arrears.
This was revealed by Albert Mandizha, the general manager of GMB, when he appeared before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture and Irrigation Development yesterday.
Mandizha was giving oral evidence on government policy regarding the strategies, operations and financing of GMB to the committee chaired by David Butau, Zanu PF MP for Mbire.
Accompanied by Ringson Chitsiko, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Agriculture, Mandizha said $96 million was needed to purchase over 250 000 metric tonnes of maize.
Another $1,5 million is needed to pay farmers for the grain they supplied last season.
He said on top of that, the government owed the GMB over $42 million that the parastatal used to finance its operations after Treasury failed to avail funds.
Mandizha said the GMB had diverted money from its commercial operations to plug the hole.
“If there is no money from Treasury, we end up using our working capital because the GMB cannot cease to function because the money available is not meant for that purpose,” Mandizha said.
He called on government to pay up.
“We are not asking for anything, we do not want assistance because we are not a charity case, but we want our money and government is aware of that and it is agreed,” he said.
“One big debt that needs to be paid up by government is the $8, 6 million owed to local transporters who ferried grain during the distribution of the grain loan scheme. It’s a challenge to us and a cause for concern.”
Chitsiko said government was liaising with local banks to enable it to pay farmers as soon as they deliver their crop to GMB.
Zimbabwe requires over 2 million metric tonnes of grain per year, of which 1, 5 million is meant for human consumption while 450 000 metric tonnes is for livestock and industrial use.
In his synopsis of the GMB’s capacity to take in the expected maize inflow this season, Chitsiko said there was need for an improvement as most grain silos were operating below capacity.
Lions’ Den depot in Mashonaland West Province for example, whose carrying capacity is 110 000 metric tonnes, is currently carrying just 12 000 tonnes.