HARARE - The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) could be forced to write off huge quantities of maize if government continues to deprive the parastatal of resources to manage the strategic grain reserve, a top official has said.
Joe Muzurura, GMB finance and administration deputy general manager, told the Audit committee chaired by Paurina Mpariwa that the country’s silos are in a sorry state.
The silos are susceptible to very destructive grain pests called weevils and prevention with chemicals such as gamatox is the best strategy to avoid insect problems in stored grains.
“What we are doing is we keep on shuttling the maize. If you look at our silos, they were built sometime in 1931, they require a complete overhaul,” said Muzurura.
“At the moment we are sitting at about 138 000 metric tonnes of maize… For this year, we only received about $500 000 to look after $80 million worth of maize. If you look at some of our silos like in Chiweshe, they are tinned, they require continuous rotating of maize to avoid stuck burns.
“Murehwa, that silo has leakage, water sipping into it from underground. If we can’t get resources to rehabilitate our silos, I don’t want to paint a very gloomy picture, but we are heading, in the next three four years, for a total disaster. Those silos now require immediate rehabilitation.”
Maize stocks are now concentrated in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, part of Masvingo and Bulawayo, according to evidence presented to parliament.
Government should pay $1,5 million for grain storage every month but it is failing to meet the bill, a situation which GMB officials blame for the loss to poor storage of 61 000 metric tonnes of maize recently.
Muzurura told the parliamentarians that the GMB now owes transport companies millions for moving maize to “safe silos”.
“We are capable of storing 750 000 metric tonnes but what we can store safely at the moment, I think it’s about 150 000 metric tonnes. We owe
$3 million in transporter fees, one year, seven months without paying a transporter surely they get out of business,” he said.
According to Muzurura, GMB recently won a tender to repair Zambia’s silos.
“What we want are resources to procure materials to repair ours. Madam chair, it’s a plea. No one is excited to dump maize, but unfortunately no one is hearing when GMB talks.”
Muzurura said GMB has managed to mobilise resources for the rehabilitation of Norton and Bulawayo silos with the former already done.