GMB in storage dilemma. . . Only 3 out of 12 silo depots functional

One of the GMB depots

One of the GMB depots

Elita Chikwati, Harare Bureau
THE Grain Marketing Board has only three functional silo depots out of the 12 storage facilities countrywide, as preparations for the intake of the summer crops have started.

The GMB is responsible for the strategic grain reserve (SGR). The quality of the grain in the SGR depends on the state of the storage facilities and resources.

GMB should have proper storage bags, grading process and there is need for fumigation chemicals.

The country is expecting a bumper harvest due to the high rainfall and several input programmes, mainly funded by Government.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Mechanisation Parliamentary Portfolio Committee yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development permanent secretary Mr Ringson Chitsiko said only three out of the 12 silos were functional.

Legislators raised concern that GMB silos were not in good condition when this year the country expected high yields.

They also said renovations should be done early before harvesting.

“We have 12 silos, but only three are intact,” Mr Chitsiko said. “One of the largest silos is in Bulawayo, but has had problems because of the current rains.

“GMB has already gone to tender to find companies that can refurbish the silos before farmers start harvesting.”

Mr Chitsiko said farmers had planted 240 000 hectares of maize under the special maize import substitute programme and farmers were expected to deliver five tonnes each to the GMB.

He said 36 000 farmers were contracted under the programme.

“We expect farmers to deliver five tonnes of maize per hectare,” said Mr Chitsiko. “GMB has not changed the maize producer price, but will continue paying $390 per tonne.”

Some legislators questioned the producer price, as they said prices of maize were set to decline in countries such as Zambia to as low as $140 per tonne.

Others said the price disparity would force many processors and millers to import cheap grain, instead of buying locally where it is expensive.

Mr Chitsiko said Government would not allow importation of grain when there were sufficient amounts in the country.

He said Government was responsible for issuing permits and would only issue import permit when there was a deficit.

In 2014, poor storage facilities at the GMB led to the deterioration of 61 000 tonnes of maize over.

The SGR is run 100 percent by Government, and GMB relies on Treasury for resources.

Article Source: The Chronicle