Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has collected more than one million tonnes of grain delivered to its depots countrywide during the 2017/18 marketing season, while more than 95 percent of farmers have been paid after Government provided the funding.
Addressing journalists in Bulawayo yesterday before a media tour of the parastatal’s Bulawayo depot, GMB southern regional manager Mrs Podiso Mafa said deliveries of such magnitude were last made during the 1994/95 season.
“We’re almost concluding our 2017/18 marketing season. This past season the GMB recorded a lot of success stories in as far as meeting its mandate is concerned, some of the success stories include handling more than one million tonnes of grain that was delivered to our depots throughout the country,” said Mrs Mafa.
“We have managed to fully pay within a reasonable period, 95 percent of farmers that delivered grain to us. The other five percent includes farmers whose payments bounced due to various reasons. We’ll pay them as soon as their queries are rectified.”
She commended Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for providing financial resources in excess of $36 million during the 2017/18 marketing season towards the acquisition of grain handling services and storage resources.
She said as of Friday last week, the total amount of white and yellow maize delivered to GMB was 1 200 006 tonnes while 184 419 tonnes of wheat had been received.
She said the GMB received 91 825 tonnes of small grains, which include red and white sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet.
“For other [crops] such as soya beans, unshelled groundnuts, shelled nuts, sunflower, round nuts and edible beans we have so far received 23 787 tonnes from our farmers. We would like to believe that the success of last season has positioned us well to continue in this growth trajectory,” said Mrs Mafa.
She said while erratic rainfall has affected most areas this season, the GMB remains focused and ready to ensure that all the grain they receive will be managed properly.
“In this regard the process of acquiring grain handling and storage resources for the 2018/19 season has already started. The storage resources include storage bags, moisture meters, stacker machines and other equipment,” said Mrs Mafa.
She said the GMB was in the process of educating farmers on post-harvest grain handling before delivery to various depots.
“We’ve also lined up stakeholder engagement programmes such as open days, field days, and media tours in an effort to communicate the expectations of GMB from farmers and the general populace that is planning to deliver maize to us.
“Last year, the issue of moisture content testing was topical as GMB was accused in some areas of refusing to accept grain.
“Quality management in grain handling is key in ensuring that we live up to our mandate of ensuring national food security,” said Mrs Mafa.
The GMB quality assurance officer Ms Sheila Chidemo emphasised the need for farmers to produce good quality grain that is marketable.
“Thorough cleaning and grading is required to get rid of defective grain. The GMB accepts grain of good quality and an acceptable moisture content level to ensure safe storage.
“Storing grains of moisture content above the acceptable levels will lead to grain quality deterioration, storage challenges and post-harvest losses,” said Ms Chidemo.
The 15 silos at the Bulawayo GMB depot, which have a capacity of 5 000 metric tonnes each, were recently water-proofed while the rest of the infrastructure and the equipment is going through maintenance in preparation for the 2018/19 marketing season. — @pamelashumba1.