Government has secured $200 million in lines of credit for grain imports, as it steps up measures to ensure that no one starves due to drought, a senior official has said.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya said although more was needed, the funds would cover a long period of food supplies.
He said this while making an intervention at the Herald Business and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Economic Outlook Symposium in Harare yesterday.
“Right now we have secured lines of credit for about $200 million to pay for the maize from September going forward,” he said.
“We still need more, but for now I do not want people to panic.”
The symposium brought together captains of industry, Government ministers and policymakers to deliberate on the economic environment, with a view to finding common ground on various issues affecting the country.
While dispelling reports that Zimbabwe required over a million tonnes of maize to see it through the season, Dr Mangudya said although more grain was needed, there were enough stocks to take the country for almost a year.
“We do not need one million tonnes of maize for now. The maize that is there in Zimbabwe is good for the next eight months or so.”
Zimbabwe has received poor and erratic rainfall this farming season as the drought blamed on the El Nino phenomenon has affected crops, threatening yields.
This prompted Government to take measures to guarantee food security, including importing maize from other countries, allowing free movement of grain from areas of surplus and encouraging private importers to bring their own maize.
The other initiative is for the Grain Marketing Board to import 230 000 tonnes of maize, starting with 30 000 which are urgently required.
The State Procurement Board has since approved GMB’s request for the 30 000 tonnes and is considering another tender for the remaining 200 000 tonnes.
Early this week, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Government was mobilising food to mitigate the effects of drought using its own resources, but international organisations were free to chip in.
In discussions with the European Union ambassador Mr Philippe Van Damme who had paid a courtesy call on him at his Munhumutapa offices, Acting President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was not sitting on its laurels.
Zimbabwe requires about 1,8 million tonnes of grain for human and livestock consumption annually.
The country is importing between 500 000 and 700 000 tonnes of maize, most of which has already been procured.
A private sector initiative launched last year is expected to import a further 700 000 tonnes to compliment Government efforts.
Government has given millers permits to import 1,2 million tonnes of maize in the past 12 months.
Millers are seized with logistics for the urgent importation of maize from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and South Africa as they seek to play a part in mitigating the effects of the drought that has affected most parts of Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe.
The millers’ initiative is expected to run until July 30 this year.