Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent—
GOVERNMENT has imported over 100 000 tonnes of maize worth $12,7 million since last October under the drought relief programme aimed at assisting vulnerable families with food.Statistics have shown that 3,3 million people are in need of food aid and Government has stepped up its grain mobilisation and distribution efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of drought.
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In his report to the National Consultative Assembly on Friday last week, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the grain payments were made under the $200 million Afreximbank facility.
“Government has made a commitment to import up to 700 000 tonnes of maize over the period October 2015 to December 2016. As at May 31, 2016, Government had imported 112 131 tonnes of maize. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has paid $12,7 million for deliveries made to date under the $200 million Afreximbank facility,” said Cde Chinamasa.
He said Government also provided the Grain Marketing Board, the Department of Social Services and District Development Fund with $3 million to meet costs associated with internal distribution of maize.
Cde Chinamasa said cumulative distribution of maize to the vulnerable households countrywide since January this year stood at 94 300 tonnes against a target of 120 000 tonnes.
On local grain purchase by the GMB, he said: “The 2016/17 grain marketing season started on April 1, 2016. A total of 34 410 tonnes of maize valued at $13,4 million and 515 tonnes of wheat valued at $257 500 had been delivered as at May 31, 2016. A total of $11,3 million had been paid for current deliveries leaving an outstanding balance of $2,1 million as at the May 31, 2016.”
Cde Chinamasa indicated that as at the end of last month the Strategic Grain Reserves had 150 431 tonnes. Maize and wheat account for 103 286 and 47 145 tonnes, respectively. Cde Chinamasa underscored the need to increase agricultural productivity and noted that Government had started a number of initiatives in that direction.
These include the agricultural mechanisation programme under the $98 million Brazilian More Food For Africa Programme, promotion of joint ventures between the public and private sectors.
So far the model has been successfully implemented by the Agricultural Rural Development Authority. Re-mapping of farms to enable issuance of 99-year leases and permits, supporting vulnerable groups with inputs and rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure, are some of the measures Government is implementing to increase agricultural productivity.