320 000t maize in reserves: Made
Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
The Grain Marketing Board depots have more than 320 000 tonnes of maize for the Strategic Grain Reserves (SGR), a senior Government official has said.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made, said there was also 65 000 tonnes of wheat in reserves including a balance from last year.
He said the amount of maize and wheat in the SGR excluded the grain imported by private millers.
“The current SGR has 321 000 tonnes of maize which gives a substantial support. In terms of maize and wheat stock, if we include the private sector then we have a reasonable supply,” he said.
Minister Made applauded farmers for continuing to deliver their grain to the GMB depots.
“A total of 207 000 tonnes of maize have been delivered so far. This is a value of $80,6 million. Farmers have also delivered 4 000 tonnes of small grains to the value of around $1,5 million. To date, close to 54 000 tonnes of wheat worth $27 million have been delivered and we expect the deliveries to continue,” he said.
Minister Made said Government had paid part of the wheat and expected the arrears to be cleared this week.
Farmers have welcomed efforts by Government to ensure that the GMB pays for deliveries within a short period and said this would promote production of maize and boost food security.
A number of farmers had been switching from maize to tobacco due to the favourable and organised marketing system in the tobacco sector.
Treasury used to take long in disbursing funds to the GMB for payment of the grain that would have been delivered by farmers.
This resulted in farmers opting to sell their grain to private buyers who paid cash on the spot, while others reduced the hectarage put under the crop.
Minister Made said Government was paying maize farmers within a short period of time so that they could use the money to buy farming inputs.
He said the tobacco industry had an organised marketing system where farmers received their money soon after selling and said Government was working on ensuring the same process was applied to maize.