The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe has taken delivery of 16 000 metric tonnes of maize from Zambia and the grain has immediately been routed to the country’s drought-hit southern region.
US$3, 5 million has been secured for additional imports while US$50 million will soon be paid to farmers who made deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made told The Sunday Mail that more Zambian supplies were expected, adding that the latest consignment is being transported to Bulawayo for onward transmission to needy areas.
“We have already taken delivery of maize from Zambia, which is coming in tranches. Our priority is the southern parts so about 16 000 metric tonnes are being transported directly to Bulawayo and will then distributed to Matabeleland North and South and other areas in the southern region.”
Dr Made said apart from the imports, authorities are focusing on paying farmers back home to enable them to make a worthwhile return to their fields.
“The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, has already released US$50 million for the purchase of grain from local farmers and is working flat out to ensure the farmers are paid for maize deliveries.
“I can assure the nation that the Finance Minister is mobilising funds for grain purchases; it’s a priority. If we pay our farmers on time, they will be encouraged to go back to the field. Government is grateful to Minister Chinamasa for the effort he is making to pay farmers timeously.”
In addition, Brazilian experts will be in Zimbabwe this week to teach farmers and local technicians on how to use the US$38, 6 million agriculture equipment received from Brazil last month.
The loan facility, whose first tranche will benefit small-holder farmers, is geared towards increased production.
“We are among the four countries, which have received this equipment as part of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and these technicians will give direct assistance to our farmers and technicians,” Dr Made said.
Zimbabwe, like other Sadc countries, harvested low yields in the 2014/15 summer cropping season due to intermittent dry spells. Only Zambia produced enough for its population and a surplus.
The Second Crop and Livestock Assessment established that Zimbabwe is facing a cereal deficit of 649 859 tonnes with a harvest projection of 808 829 tonnes.
At least 1, 4 million tonnes are required for human consumption while stock feed demand is 350 000 tonnes.
To complement both imports and domestic harvests, Government will distribute 138 000 tonnes of maize from the Strategic Grain Reserve.