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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  • Aristotle Lupus

    Come on. What were they doing all along if not repairing one silo at least once a year since the land reform and since there no bumper harvests?
    No sanction stories please.
    Zvichireva we need to be hand held nemubhunhu kuti tiite productive. Why can’t we do things that prove the pundits wrong?
    Not only is this bad for the nation but it gives the naysayers much to talk about.

  • N. Sithole

    I am eager to hear what Prof Muzvinhavhu has to say. Sanctions?

  • yowe

    hahahaha yes!!!! “Nyatsoterera unzwe kutonga haaa muhofisi munaBobo…” years of neglect why?? only now a few months before harvest then they discovered that they have no place to store the grain?? Chinamasa print more bond notes madhura avakwe hahahha YOWE!!!!

  • dick mboko

    If Zambia and possibly all our neighbours sell their maize at $200 per tonne (which is most likely to be the case) then I foresee Zimbabwe maize rotting. The government may decide not to issue permits to the companies (which is brainless) – but the companies simply close shop and who wins – Only Morons. There is no where in the World where the price of maize is $350 per tonne).

    • Ray Mbada

      Where else in the world do you find fertilizer going at $36? In Botswana and Mozambique it’s going for less than $10 but ours is 4 times the price and the newspaper browsers in their racist minds choose to close their dirty eyes on that!


    We will be very lucky if they even have any insurance policies even in the most basic of terms ..! They have been sitting on their laurels all along and lauding command agriculture without an idea of where they would store the expected farm produce…! You would think with our literacy rates we could know better to use the commonest of senses but alas we are always on the back pedal….! It is a sad reality!!

  • Mister Arcadia PhD.

    You inherited a jewel of a country and slowly stripped it right down to the bone ..Shameless thugs!

  • Progressive Zimbabwean

    I think we are quick to comment without information. GMB is currently under a young dynamic team of managers whom I believe have got the capacity to take GMB forward. Theirs is a legacy problem. I understand they are working with a reputable insurance company currently and are working on risk management recommendations made. The major constraint from a few interactions I have had with them is that of resources or funding from treasury but this has also improved and I am positive the entity will be able to sail through. Calling them fools is a bit discouraging considering they are relatively new at their current jobs and the fact that we all know resources are limited.

  • DisectorGeneral

    Assign soldiers sitting in barracks to sort out this mess. We still have over 90 days before harvest

    • Ray Mbada

      You have a point baba they are getting paid before every civil servant for sitting in the barrack nxaa!

  • Progressive Zimbabwean

    Whilst I agree with you that money must be found I think we should implore treasury to give this area priority. It is to be expected that they should be working with an insurance company. Insurance companies usually work on a risk management programme which if followed may result in operational efficiencies being improved. However, in the absence of funding management may find it difficult to execute some of the recommendations. It must at least be appreciated that the current team at GMB is doing a sterling job with limited resources.

  • ZISO

    I did not expect such stupidity for such so called mature & man and woman of the party, to plan command farming and not knowing were to put the yealds.Thats the highest class of stupidity. so you are telling us to do what?

  • Rangarirai

    Kikikiki! And then all parents will try to pay their school fees with bags of maize?
    At least maize has a Sell by Date before it becomes rotten, unlike Bond notes which have no expiry date printed on them, even if they were issued under the Presidential powers Act only valid for 180 days, or at the limit that secret $200 million debt called the Afreximbank facility/liability won’t last forever and must have a redemption date which eventually has to be paid back with interest, leaving $200 million worthless bond notes floating around with zero backing guarantees making further nonsense of that 1:1 ratio claimed by Dr Mangudya.

  • Kire

    Iiiiii government let not backtrack on food security. The required equipment to do this should have been in place as we were planning the command agriculture scheme. As we were aiming for bumper harvest we should have next been concerned about storage facilities. But I remain hopeful that government is working hard to ensure this is ractified as soon as possible. Forwards ever.

  • Idiot

    vanhu ngavaise mudzihozi

  • Ray Mbada

    “EXPERIENCED YOUTH” Kkkkk that’s what happens with emotionally driven comments.

  • Ray Mbada

    Someone said it already that the Z.N.A. can to fix that. We have an army that carries quiet a number of these duties and in such a crisis I see it fit to call upon our Defense to defend the nation against this looming starvation.

  • Sabhuku

    I once made a comment on policies and planning and said policies need to be long term and coordinated. Now assuming the command agric model is a success, and we harvest enough to feed the nation, chinoenda pai chibage chacho. mazidofo evanhu! (vanotitungamirira of course nevanovavhotera).