Wilson Dakwa, Business Reporter
THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is seeking funds to buy maize driers to dry maize that will be delivered to their depots with moisture content above the recommended standard as it readies for this year’s marketing season.
Last year, there were a number of complaints from farmers after GMB turned down some of the maize due to high moisture content. Speaking on the sidelines after a media tour at the parastatal’s Bulawayo depot last week, GMB corporate communications officer Mr Joseph Katete said awareness programmes were also being conducted to educate farmers on how to preserve standard moisture content.
“GMB, through the Government, is in the process of sourcing for funds to procure driers so that we assist farmers who would have delivered their grain while it’s still wet or the moisture content will still be high hence, with the drier, we will dry it for some time before it goes into our silos.
“With regards to moisture content, this year our quality assurance officers are conducting awareness programmes to teach farmers on how to preserve grain after harvest and measures to be taken before delivering to GMB. We are also educating farmers through programmes such as open days, media tours,” said Mr Katete.
Last year, a two-tier black market system emerged outside most GMB depots countrywide where grain rejected for moisture content in excess of the standard 12.5 percent threshold ended up being sold for as little as $150 per tonne while Government had pegged the price at $390 per tonne.
The farmers sold the maize on the black market so as to offset transport costs and some of them were contracted under the Command Agriculture and were expected to pay for the inputs from part of their produce through a stop order facility after delivering to GMB.
Reports from last year also state that some farmers resorted to bribing GMB officials to accept the rejected maize. Mr Katete urged farmers to desist from engaging in such illicit activities.
“We urge farmers to avoid bribing GMB officials as this will eventually spoil other maize in the silos,” he said.
He added that water-proofing of the 15 silos at the Bulawayo GMB depot was completed in December last year. Meanwhile, GMB southern regional manager Mrs Podiso Mafa applauded 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. -@WilsonDakwa1