HARARE – Zimbabwe has lost tens of thousands tonnes of maize grain at its Grain Marketing Board (GMB) silos which remain empty while citizens face starvation.
According to documents in possession of the Daily News, the GMB has written off 75 000 tonnes of maize grain from 2011 to 2012, with the bulk of the maize having been water damaged.
Multiple certificates were issued by GMB, which is charged with grain procurement and securing reserves, after the grain reserve was damaged.
Albert Mandizha, GMB general manager, admitted to the Daily News that the silos were empty, but said damaged grain was not a new development.
“I am surprised there is any damaged grain to talk about at the moment because we do not have any grain,” he said referring further questions to the corporate communications manager Muriel Zemura.
A former bread basket of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is currently spending millions in grain importation from neighbouring Zambia, whilst farmers are turning to tobacco farming due to its financial rewards.
According to government, an order of 150 000 tonnes has been placed from Zambia as part of an effort to plug a grain deficit.
“There is no rotten or under-grade maize at our depots,” Zemura said. “The maize being distributed under the grain loan scheme is quality imported maize from Zambia and deliveries from local Zimbabwean farmers.
“Other than imports by government from Zambia, other players in the industry are also importing grain for their own production purposes. There is natural deterioration of maize after three years depending on the storage conditions. This is not a loss to the company as it actually becomes expensive to continue to keep it and fumigating it instead of disposing it to stock feed users.”
The 75 000 tonnes of grain was damaged through rot, moisture and termite damage.
“Under normal circumstances this grain should have been kept securely for cases of emergency, now we have nothing in the reserves because the grain was not managed well,” said a source at the GMB.
More than 2,2 million people in Zimbabwe’s 10 political provinces are facing famine, according to the recent United Nations statistics.