15 February 2013

Zimbabwe: GMB Owes Transporters U.S.$6 Million

The Grain Marketing Board owes US$6 million to transporters ferrying grain under the grain loan scheme. Under the programme, grain is moved from areas of surplus to areas of deficit. GMB communications manager, Mrs Muriel Zemura confirmed that the parastatal was having challenges implementing the Grain Loan Scheme due to delays in paying transporters.

The company will only be able to pay transporters after getting the money from the Treasury which most of time takes long in releasing the money.

"As GMB we await disbursements of the funds from the Ministry of Finance. This is affecting movements of grain to vulnerable groups," she said.

So far, GMB has dispatched a cumulative 205 389 tonnes of maize from January last year to February 6 2013.

The GMB has not imported any grain this marketing season.

Since the market was liberalised, a number of local millers and other players in the industry have been importing maize from countries such as Zambia and Malawi.

Government introduced the grain loan scheme last year to cushion people whose crops never reached maturity because of a dry spell during the cropping season. The scheme is expected to end in March when farmers harvest their summer crops.

Authorities have however indicated that the programme may be extended if there are still households that are not food secure.

Under the scheme, all households facing food deficits -- including A2 farmers -- are eligible to get maize from GMB.

The local leadership such as chiefs, headmen and councillors are entitled to get a 50kg bag of maize per month. GMB confirmed that the uptake of the grain was high.

Villagers in different areas are complaining of delays in deliveries despite having paid to have the maize delivered nearer their homes.

Government established 511 collection points for grain across the country and 600 000 households were expected to benefit.

Farmers buy the maize at US$16 per 50kg bag and while those without money will pay through deliveries to GMB after harvesting.

Provinces that face perennial food shortages include parts of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabelaland North, South and some parts of Midlands.

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