‘Grain reserves below expectations’

via ‘Grain reserves below expectations’ | The Herald July 6, 2015

The Grain Marketing Board has 118 000 tonnes of maize in its Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR), well below the 500 000 tonnes that the SGR should hold at any given time.

Acting general manager Mr Lawrence Jasi told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee last week that the board has 118 000 tonnes of maize in the SGR against a requirement of 150 000 tonnes of maize per month.

The SGR ensures national food security and is distributed to areas of deficit in times of need.

Mr Jasi said GMB was failing to procure and maintain the SGR as Treasury was taking too long to avail funds.

He told parliamentarians that the grain was also deteriorating in quality due to financial challenges.

This led to the deterioration of 61 000 tonnes of maize over the past season.

Parliamentarians accused GMB of wasting grain that should be fed to food insecure people.

“The SGR is run 100 percent by Government and we rely on Treasury for resources. The quality of the grain depends on storage resources. We should have proper storage bags, the grading process should also be proper and we need chemicals for fumigation,” he said.

“This season the situation is better. We have stored the maize in safe bins and we are moving the grain to depots with proper handling infrastructure to reduce losses. We also carry routine checks and fumigations.’’

Mr Jasi said the GMB had also refurbished its Norton depot and would soon move to Bulawayo to refurbish the silos.

He said Treasury was taking long to release funds for the management of the SGR and to pay farmers.

The GMB requires $1,5 million per month to manage and maintain the SGR.

“If given funds by Treasury on time, we can pay farmers in 14 days. Delayed payments have reduced the SGR. We still have traditional collecting points but we have had difficulties collecting the maize as some farmers demand their money before the grain can be moved to safer depots,” he said.

Parliamentarians questioned the logic of GMB buying grain from farmers at a high price of $390 per tonne and selling to millers for between $400 and $445 per tonne.

Mr Jasi said there were no takers for the GMB maize since it was expensive compared to cheap imports which were landing at around $300 per tonne.

Parliamentarians felt that the price being offered by GMB was high and unviable and suggested that it be reviewed downwards.

Acting Permanent Secretary, Mr Joseph Gondo, said most farmers were selling their grain to private buyers who had ready cash.

He said buyers were offering low prices of around $180 per tonne and farmers were selling out of desperation.

The GMB is offering the highest price of $390 per tonne although it does not have ready cash.

“We offer farmers a higher price than other countries in the region because we want to motivate farmers to continue producing the crop, he said.

“When coming up with a producer price, we consider the costs of production and put a mark-up of at least 20 percent so farmers will be able to break even and go back to the lands.”

Mr Gondo argued that farmers in the region had their inputs subsidised and these could not be compared with Zimbabwe, which had high production costs.

He said Agritex was educating farmers to boost yields per unit area.


  • comment-avatar
    Will I am Tell 7 years ago

    Smith was right – these guys are like children. Let them suffer.

  • comment-avatar
    grabmore 7 years ago

    How come Zambia broke their record maize crop last season?

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    william w mills 7 years ago

    GMB is not a brand new entity. It is a long established institution with decades of operating experience. Such an entity should have (among others) a working capital account. What has happened to GMB’s working capital? Who stole it? And why are the rascals not in prison. Obviously some crimes have been committed and why is no one being investigated or arrested?

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    Michael 7 years ago

    These idiots should never run any institution – since they do not understand the basic principles attached to agricultural production management. Mass production of food is based on the same principle world-wide and that is that production by commercial farmers on large scale allows for lower prices being paid – the large quantities making it possible for farmers to ensure they maintain a decent living standard themselves. Excess food supply in all countries is based on that principle.

    Because the small production capacity of small-scale farmers are inadequate and does not yield enough of the product involved to allow for the survival of small scale farmers financially – they have to be paid excessive prices for their produce to ensure their financial survival.

    The answer is relatively simple – there should be provision for mass production of food by large scale commercial farming activity in which case lower prices are paid – allowing for subsidisation of prices paid to small scale farmers. Subsistence farmers do not produce enough excess food in any event, while large scale commercial farmers provide the excess production capacity to ensure that there are adequate food resources for the nation as a whole.

    Zimbabwe has destroyed large scale farming with idiotic policy decisions and implementation and is now in a situation where food production is totally inadequate. Zambia on the other hand has gone the other way and has implemented measures to enhance large scale farming by individual farmers to ensure the total food supply of the country is adequate to feed the nation and even allow for export.

    As long as Zimbabwe do have system where farms are leasehold property and not owned by individuals and farm sizes are restricted, making it impossible for farmers to raise bank loans to cover production input cost – and while the rule of law is not applied properly – the present deficiencies will continue and the country will remain a basket case where millions of people starve.

  • comment-avatar

    truly a comedy of errors.
    of course it won’t be so funny if people starve.
    there needs to be a proper focus on these issues.
    why offer $390 / ton for maize when you have no money and the regional market is paying $300/ton milled product.
    why does treasury not pay for the SGR — what is more important than that?

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    At the height of the Land Grab I remember listening to the Kenyan minister of agriculture saying, “The future of agriculture in Africa lies in large scale commercial farming. The world will always need food, and we can provide it from Africa”

    “Yes” I thought, “and we in Zimbabwe (as usual) are doing the exact opposite” Why? Because as a nation we are deeply racist and the politicians exploit that mercilessly

    It is ironic that Zambia has real “bumper harvests” but of course Zim doesn’t, because of – floods, droughts, sanctions – you name it! But you dare not mention incompetence.