Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
The food crisis in the country is expected to ease, with the Grain Marketing Board set to urgently import at least 230 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia. The State Procurement Board (SPB) has since approved GMB’s request to import the staple food, starting with 30 000 tonnes which are urgently required.
The other 200 000 tonnes are under consideration by the SPB, with sources saying it was a matter of time before the grain was procured.
The development is expected to alleviate a devastating food crisis following last season’s poor harvest due to drought which hit most parts of the country.
Latest figures from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency revealed that Zimbabwe imported maize worth $149,4 million from January to November last year.
The maize has been distributed to the most affected areas in Masvingo, Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Manicaland and parts of Mashonaland East.
Provincial Affairs ministers last week said more food was required as it appeared a Government committee established to assess the food situation left out a number of people in remote areas.
GMB requested a waiver from the SPB last Friday to directly import 30 000 tonnes of non-genetically modified maize from Zambia, which was granted promptly.
A letter to GMB acting general manager Mr Lawrence Jasi dated January 8, 2016, indicates that SPB principal Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete did not object to the request.
“Your minute dated January 8, 2016 wherein you made representations with respect to the above matter refers. The State Procurement Board has, through PBR 1518 of January 8, 2016, having reviewed the accounting officer’s submission in line with S.I (Statutory Instrument) 126 of 2015, resolved that there is no objection;
“To the accounting officer’s request for authority for direct purchase of 30 000 metric tonnes of non-GMO white maize from Grain Traders Association of Zambia on an “as and when” required basis at $350- $390 per metric tonne,” reads part of the letter.
That also applied “to the accounting officer’s request for proposal (RFP) for supply and delivery of 200 000mt non-GMO white maize.”
On the 30 000 tonnes direct purchase, Mr Nyanhete said companies should pay 0,8 percent per contract administration fees in terms of S.I 159 of October 12, 2012, for the direct award.
He said Mr Jasi was expected to submit pro-curement reports within 14 days of contract signature to enable the SPB to calculate administration fees.
Zimbabwe seeks to import about 700 000 tonnes to avert hunger which has stalked thousands following a regional grain deficit which has also affected South Africa, Botswana, parts of Angola, Lesotho and the DRC. South Africa alone is expected to import 5 million tonnes of maize, according to industry sources.
Zimbabwe requires about 1,8 million tonnes of grain for both human and livestock consumption per year.
The nation produced about 800 000 tonnes of maize last season due to erratic rains and flooding in parts of the country.
Over 60 grain importers have been licenced by the responsible authorities to import 1,2 million tonnes of maize and so far they have brought in 450 000 tonnes of maize.
It is expected that Government will import more maize as the current farming season is unlikely to yield a lot due to the worst global El Nino phenomenon experienced in 18 years.