Farmers have delivered more than 47 136 tonnes of maize, 5 000 tonnes of soyabeans and 136 tonnes of small grains to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) within the first month of the marketing season, raising expectations the agricultural sector is gradually getting back to its feet.
GMB forecasts deliveries will top 750 000 metric tonnes by the end of the marketing season.
The parastatal presently has 968 052 tonnes of grain in stock.
At one point, deliveries fell below 200 000 metric tonnes.
GMB general manager Mr Rockie Mutenha told The Sunday Mail in a recent interview that there has been a noticeable increase in grain deliveries.
“The GMB is happy with the seemingly increasing appetite by farmers to deliver grain to us as indicated by the rise in deliveries to the national granary in the past few years.
“Some of the contributing factors include the timeous payments which are done within 14 days after delivery and an improved business relationship with the farmers who are partners with the organisation.”
Mr Mutenha said deliveries have been improving over the last two years owing to Command Agriculture and the Presidential Well-Wishers Input Support Scheme.
“As the saying goes ‘figures do not lie’, there has indeed been progress in the last two years, thanks to Government programmes like Command Agriculture and the Presidential Well- Wishers (Input Support Scheme) which has assisted farmers to increase production.
“Farmers were not able to get funding from banks in the form of loans that require collateral, but now farmers have been motivated to produce with the assistance of the Government-funded input schemes.”
To improve storage space, GMB – whose silos have the capacity to handle 733 500 tonnes of grain – is currently moving grain from high volume areas in Mashonaland West and Central, which are poised to receive even more grain deliveries, to needy southern areas mostly in Matabeleland and Masvingo.
Some of the maize is also being dispatched to vulnerable groups through social welfare programmes and millers.
The parastatal, however, is capable of handling improved deliveries since its bagged storage capacity, excluding the silos, currently stands at 4,3 million tonnes.
Further, two new bagged depots were recently completed in Chiredzi and Muzarabani, while an equal number of silo depots are going to be constructed.
“There are also plans to expand our depots to increase capacity, with two bagged depots recently completed in Rutenga (Chiredzi) and Mushumbi (Muzarabani).
“Hardstands are being constructed to increase capacity and also to eliminate contamination from moisture, (while) two silo depots are earmarked for Marondera and Timber Mills along a railway line to facilitate imports when we have deficits and exports in cases of surplus,” said Mr Mutenha.
As part of a deliberate effort to minimise post-harvest losses, GMB is currently running “massive awareness” programmes on standard operating procedures and quality standards expected from farmers.
“The GMB is now involved in massive awareness programmes whereby we are engaging farmers to enhance their knowledge on our expectations before they start delivering to the GMB. This is being done through Open Days at various GMB depots, where different GMB stakeholders are invited and taken through the standard operating procedures and quality standards like moisture content, extraneous matter and density, to mention just a few.”
The parastatal also confirmed that it will continue to pay farmers within 14 days of deliveries.