GRAIN deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) have been on the decrease in the last five years because most farmers have now resorted to tobacco farming, which yields better profits than food crops.
BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
GMB board chairman Charles Chikaura said although the parastatal retained its buyer of last resort status, several factors negatively impinged on its operations, but their forecasts indicated that there was likely to be a surplus of maize in the 2014/2015 season.
“There has been a decrease in maize received in the 2013/14 marketing year from the intake that was received in the previous four years,” said Chikaura. “The decrease in maize deliveries was a result of erratic climatic conditions which affected production, delayed inputs, late farmer payments and crop production shifts to high-earning crops like tobacco.”
In a statement on GMB’s performance between April 2013 and March 2014, Chikaura said the parastatal was affected by shortages of grain storage bags, poor storage infrastructure and transport logistics and a liquidity crunch compounded by delays in receipts from Treasury.
“The 2013/2014 season’s maize intake was 47 917 metric tonnes (59%) lower than the maize delivered during the 2012/2013 marketing season,” Chikaura said.
Maize deliveries for the 2012/2013 season were pegged at 131 432 metric tonnes, which was 62% lower than that of the 2011/2012 marketing season.
Chikaura commended farmers that had continued to contribute to national food security through their grain deliveries and encouraged them to play their part in the 2014/2015 season.
“The projected marketable surplus of maize based on the results of the current crop forecasts for the 2014/2015 is 250 000 metric tonnes,” he said.
Zimbabwe has imported 150 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa to guarantee food supplies before the current harvest.
It has also imported grain from Zambia.
The imports were prompted by poor harvests particularly in the southern parts of the country, which left hundreds of thousands of households in need of food relief.