Zimbabwe minister blames private sector for low grain imports

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Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made yesterday admitted the country was left with low stocks of grain,adding that  the private sector were issued with enough permits to import grain but they have brought very limited supplies.

He assured the nation that no one would starve as Government activated mechanisms to import more maize to avert a food crisis.zimbabwe_protest

This follows a poor harvest after last year’s drought which left the country facing a food deficit.

Dr Made said Government was providing food to all vulnerable households in different parts of the country.

“We have issued enough permits to the private sector to import grain but they have brought very limited supplies. The sector also depends on its cash flows to import.

“It is the obligation of the State to ensure there is sufficient food for the people. It is our responsibility to ensure that there is adequate grain and we cannot leave it to the private sector alone. We will step up imports,” he said.

In May, Government gave millers import permits to import 700 000 tonnes of grain to meet the deficit.

Dr Made could not give the exact figures of the grain to be imported or the number of people facing food shortages and said there were teams on the ground that were assessing the food situation.

“We cannot pre-empt. We are monitoring the situation,” he said.

Reports in the local media revealed that the country is left with grain to last two months.

According to a local daily, millers have reported that there were 240 000 tonnes of maize for human and livestock consumption in the country including the 152 000 tonnes from the Grain Marketing Board Strategic Reserve.

Under normal circumstances, GMB must have at least 500 000 tonnes in the reserves.

Zimbabwe requires about 1,8 million tonnes of maize per year for human and animal consumption.

The minister said the current season was a bad one as the rains would not be enough for agriculture.

“The season is already halfway. Farmers have planted and others are still planting and replanting. We are now coming to the end of the planting season and we are approaching mid-season in which we usually experience the dry spell.

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