900 tonnes of grain imported

via 900 tonnes of grain imported – DailyNews Live by Lloyd Mbiba  14 JANUARY 2014

Zimbabwe continues to receive more grain from South Africa, but the figure still falls short of the required 150 000 tonnes required to stave off hunger.

Davis Marapira, deputy Agriculture minister responsible for cropping, told the Daily News yesterday that maize was coming into the country on a daily basis.

“As we speak now, I think we have received about 800 or 900 tonnes of grain from South Africa,” he said.

“Last week, the figure was at 700 tonnes and it has increased to about 900 tonnes. We are receiving the grain on a daily basis.”

Marapira said the grain has already been distributed to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) stations across the country for cash sales.

“We can no longer afford to distribute for free. The grain have been forwarded to GMB for cash sales. The percentage that is reserved for the department of Social Welfare has already been forwarded,” he said.

Last week, Marapira’s boss Joseph Made announced that for every delivery of maize, 10 percent of the grain would be forwarded to the Department of Social Welfare.

Marapira said government would consider distributing some grain to people who were displaced by floods.

Government is importing maize from South Africa to counter the current food deficit, after recording a drought in the 2012-2013 agricultural season.

Zimbabwe early this year placed an order for 150 000 tonnes from Zambia as part of an effort to plug the grain deficit.

The country has so far received 4 300 tonnes out of the 150 000 tonnes required.

United Nations Food Agency says 2,2 million Zimbabweans face starvation.

The UN World Food Programme has already started parcelling hand-outs to struggling villagers.

Rising hunger, mostly in the southern districts, according to the UN, is caused by erratic weather, the high cost of seed and fertiliser in the troubled economy and a 15 percent rise in prices for the maize staple after poor harvests.

About 1,4 million Zimbabweans received food aid last year.

Meanwhile, Marapira has predicted that the current farming season will be fruitful.

“You can see that there is rain. Farmers are receiving inputs and therefore I think this year it will be much much better,” Marapira said.