via Govt fails to unlock $51m Chinese facility 07 September 2014
THE Government has in the past three years failed to avail nearly $8 million to unlock a $51 million Chinese facility availed for state grain procurer, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to rehabilitate its dilapidated silos risking the storage of the country’s grain reserves, a legislative report shows.
The report tabled before Parliament by the portfolio committee on land, agriculture, mechanisation and irrigation chaired by David Butau shows that the GMB was yet to access the loan facility availed by AVIC, a Chinese company in 2011 due to government failure to provide $7.6 million required to unlock the funding.
With the anticipated bumper harvest in the 2013/14 season, the committee said it was critical that the parastatal be facilitated to boost its capacity to handle grain.
GMB has an installed silo capacity of 740,500 tonnes but due to old age and poor maintenance, available functional capacity had dropped to 423,700 tonnes.
“The committee recommends that maintenance and repair of silos be prioritised as a matter of urgency, as such the committee recommends that Ministry of Finance avail funds to the tune of $7.6 million to allow the AVIC facility to kick start,” the committee said in its report.
“The AVIC facility needs to be vigorously pursued with the Ministry of Finance in the 2014/15 marketing season to restore Zimbabwe’s capacity to keep her strategic grain reserves.”
The committee said the GMB had temporarily created additional storage capacity to handle as much as 4.2 million tonnes of grain.
It was also imperative that government availed adequate resources for the GMB to purchase grain from farmers, the committee added.
According to the report, Zimbabwe requires 2.010 million tonnes per annum of which 1.56 million tonnes is for human consumption while the remainder is for livestock and industrial use.