GMB’s $50 million storage headache •75pc national silos need repair •Command Agric spurs demand for space

Secretary for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Mr Ringson Chitsiko (right) and his Director Mr Moffat Nyamangara (left) give oral evidence on Command Agriculture before Parliament yesterday. — (Picture by John Manzongo)

Secretary for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Mr Ringson Chitsiko (right) and his Director Mr Moffat Nyamangara (left) give oral evidence on Command Agriculture before Parliament yesterday. — (Picture by John Manzongo)

Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter—
THE Grain Marketing Board has only three functional silo depots out of its 12 storage facilities countrywide, posing headaches for authorities as the country expects a bumper harvest this season under Government’s Command Agriculture Programme that has been complemented by an above-average rainy season.

GMB has over 80 depots, 12 of which are equipped with silos designed to hold up to 500 000 tonnes of grain, but they are crumbling due to years of neglect and require over $50 million for repairs. The Lions Den silo near Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West, is the world’s third largest with a holding capacity of 104 000 tonnes.

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GMB is responsible for the strategic grain reserve (SGR) and the quality of the grain depends on the state of the storage facilities. GMB should have proper storage bags, a perfect grading process and appropriate fumigation chemicals.

What this also means is that more holding space needs to be created for maize, since the GMB is expected to collect more than 500 000 tonnes of maize due to the success of Command Agriculture.

Command Agriculture is the special maize import substitution programme instituted by Government, which saw farmers getting assistance with inputs in return for delivering five tonnes per hectare to GMB.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Mechanisation yesterday, Secretary for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Mr Ringson Chitsiko said GMB should urgently ensure the silos are functional.

This will help avoid an embarrassing situation where grain will be readily available, but the GMB cannot take it in becauseof lack of storage facilities. Legislators raised concern that GMB silos were not in good condition when the country expected high yields this year.

They also said renovations should be done before harvesting.

“We have 12 silos, but only three are intact,” Mr Chitsiko said. “One of the large 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 Command Agriculture and were expected to deliver five tonnes each per hectare to the GMB. At least 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 are sufficient stocks in Zimbabwe. Government, he said, was responsible for issuing permits and would only issue import permits when there is a deficit.

In 2014, poor storage facilities at the GMB led to the deterioration of 61 000 tonnes of maize. The SGR is run 100 percent by Government, and GMB relies on Treasury for resources.

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  • Development Proponent

    This is the problem I have. Where are our priorities. Money must be found like yesterday and work must be completed very quickly. I am sure those that insure GMB have done their risk survey and GMB can rely on this survey and quickly work on the recommendations.

  • Simon Nziramasanga

    Maybe my engineering knowledge is rusting, kanti could we not have used the years of no-grain to maintain the structures? Or were all maintenance staff retrenched? If indeed this is true then some heads need to roll. I thought GM was headed by former security guys and I expect better.

  • Simon Nziramasanga

    But it is the soldiers running the GMB that ran it down tezvara

  • kutototo

    Not a problem really. A rich country with people who buy a Million dollar ring can surely easily find 50 Million to repair Silos.

  • Telescope

    Aaah what nonsense is this….lack of planning and no strategy zvauraya nyika. Can someone be fired like just now….to show kuti nyika inoda maserious.

  • CeeJay

    I am sure the young progressive managers will not fail the government efforts. And government should not even wait to be fooled by anyone, The “Commanders” of this scheme will be what I could hold accountable if the grain is reported to have gone bad under storage. Oh what a waste it would be. So please we dont want to hear that. Tiri kuitaura nyaya iyi nhasi. Hapana anozoti I didnt know.

  • Telescope

    Editor please can you assist, I want to know how many Silos were built after independence??

    • African Conservative

      I have a quick answer for you my friend.. ZERO

  • aboobakah

    me too the dumbest professor to ever commented on discus

  • African Conservative

    Ah yas… So we spent $500 million on command agriculture, to try and reduce grain imports which amounted to $260 million last year during the drought period. Why did we not just put $260 million into command agriculture and $50 million into the refurbishment of silos? As it stands, if these Silos are not adequately repaired, they are going to result in the loss of grain due to spoilage..

  • African Conservative

    I couldnt have said it any better!

  • Ray Mbada

    We had no food to store, we didn’t hear of the staff who were dismissed because there was no work to do. So, are we saying these employees were getting their salaries to seat and wait for the year rains would fall? There was no maintenance taking place! What type of management system do we employ in Zimbabwe?

    MANAGEMENT BY CRISIS FOR REAL!!!!!

  • Ray Mbada

    When ever you compare prices you should not forget to compare prices of fertilizers and other farming inputs. Cruel governance!

  • zimbotry

    So where are my comments??????????