GMB loses $6m maize

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Government has lost 55 000 tonnes of maize grain worth about $16 million due to poor storage at its 44 Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots and silos countrywide.

GMB officials confirmed the matter yesterday and attributed the loss to what they termed bin burn and water damage.

Deterioration in quality was mainly due to age, bin burn and water damage, said GMB spokesperson Joseph Katete.

The parastatal collected most of the maize at Grade A price of $285 per tonne, and is yet to pay for the deliveries. On September 30, 2011, the GMB declared the maize unfit for human consumption and cleared it to be sold as stockfeed at an average price of $175 per tonne.

The parastatal expects to raise about $9 642 874,85 from the sales, thus incurring a $6 061 235,62 loss.

Maize is the countrys main staple food. Some of our silos are no longer watertight and there is need for waterproofing to ensure good maintenance of grain quality.

Tendering process for repairs is underway, Katete said.

Maize has been inspected and found to be undergrade, that is the grade for poor quality maize not fit for human consumption.

The necessary procedures were followed and approval for disposal was granted.

This comes amid reports 500 000 of the 1,6 million hectares under this years maize crop had been declared a write-off due to bad weather.

Agriculture and Mechanisation minister Joseph Made told the Chiefs Council conference in the city on Wednesday Cabinet had resolved to extend the grain loan scheme in drought-prone areas to mitigate against hunger where an estimated
100 000 households are already reportedly in need of food aid.

The revelation also comes when Cabinet has ordered the GMB to sell some of the grain in the national strategic reserve to pay farmers who have remained unpaid.

Some debts date back to the Zimbabwe dollar era. But sources told NewsDay some of the maize declared as rotten was actually of good quality and was being sold to middlemen connected to GMB depot managers and later resold at commercial value on the parallel market.

Documents shown to NewsDay indicate Concession (16 370,592 tonnes), Aspindale (16 600 tonnes), Lions Den (5 120,530 tonnes) and Chiweshe (4 616,003 tonnes) depots as the worst affected.

Since the coming on board of the Albert Mandizha-led executive three years ago, 87 GMB employees have been fired over corruption charges.The parastatal recently reshuffled most of its depot managers and senior officials in a bid to curb the vice.

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