20 November 2007

Zimbabwe: Maize Seed Imports Arrive

Harare — Maize seed imported from Zambia started coming in last Friday with 476 tonnes already in the country.

The seed is stored at Bak Storage in Harare awaiting distribution to various Grain Marketing Board depots countrywide. Bak Storage managing director Mr Davison Ziki said daily deliveries of about 308 tonnes were expected during the next five weeks.

The Herald Business news crew visited a Bak Storage depot in Willowvale industrial sites in Harare and witnessed some trucks being offloaded. "Deliveries began last Fri-day and up to now we have received 476 tonnes of maize seed. "We will be expecting daily deliveries during the next five weeks and we will be open 24 hours a day." The seed was imported by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe from Seed Co's Zambian subsidiary at a cost of about US$17 million to avert seed shortages during the 2007/08 farming season.

Government had indicated that it needed to import an additional 15 000 tonnes to ensure sufficient maize seed to farmers. About 300 000 tonnes of sorghum seed would also be imported from Botswana.Now that the seed maize has started arriving, focus should now be turned on quick distribution, analysts have noted. "It is good that the seed has started arriving. What is important now is to ensure that farmers get the seed on time. "Rains have already started with some farmers in various parts of the country having already started tilling.

"So the authorities should expedite the distribution of the seed so that farmers plant on time," a Harare-based agriculture analyst said. No comment could be obtained from Agriculture Minister Mr Rugare Gumbo by the time of going to press. GMB officials were also not immediately available for a comment.

Zimbabwe needs about 50 000 tonnes of maize seed during the current season. At least 35 000 tonnes was available from local sources.

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