Govt releases $2,5m for silo refurbishment

Vice President Emmerson admire a maize crop during a tour of Doreen's Pride Farm in Kadoma yesterday. Picture by John Manzongo

Vice President Emmerson admire a maize crop during a tour of Doreen’s Pride Farm in Kadoma yesterday. Picture by John Manzongo

Walter Nyamukondiwa and Elita Chikwati
Government has released $2,5 million for the repair of silos countrywide, while the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) says it has capacity to store over 1,2 million tonnes of maize in the forthcoming marketing season.

GMB’s marketing season starts in April.

The country is expecting a bumper harvest following good rains and increased strategic crops planted during the 2016-17 season.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa talking to Gabaro farm owner Mr Innocent Mahufe while his wife Olindah Mahufe look on during a tour of Command Agriculture participants in Hurungwe yesterday. Picture by John Manzongo

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa talking to Gabaro farm owner Mr Innocent Mahufe while his wife Olindah Mahufe look on during a tour of Command Agriculture participants in Hurungwe yesterday. Picture by John Manzongo

GMB has started repairing silos at different depots and waterproofing work is expected to start soon following the release of money.

In an interview after touring the special maize import substitute programme dubbed Command Agriculture projects in Kadoma, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said funds that had been released would also be used for improvisation using tarpaulin.

Most farmers countrywide are expecting a bumper harvest following government's introduction of command agriculture. Picture by John Manzongo

Most farmers countrywide are expecting a bumper harvest following government’s introduction of command agriculture. Picture by John Manzongo

He said a programme to roll out more silos was also being put in place at Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) farms and Command Agriculture clusters across the country.

VP Mnangagwa gave Government’s assurance that all grain would be received and safely stored.

Most farmers including peasant countrywide are expecting a bumper harvest following government's introduction of command agriculture. Picture by John Manzongo

Most farmers including peasant countrywide are expecting a bumper harvest following government’s introduction of command agriculture. Picture by John Manzongo

There have been concerns over the poor state of some silos, with indications that about $50 million is needed for their repair.

“We have already provided $2,5 million to the Ministry of Agriculture (and Irrigation Development) to repair the silos, but we are also aware that even those silos can only take 700 000 metric tonnes of grain,” he said.

farm 3

“However, we are expecting anything around two million tonnes and the Ministry is going to improvise to take grain and be able to store it. This will include use of tarpaulins,” he said.

He said Government had a programme to increase silos across the country as the immediate step after consolidation of production.

This will be followed by the development of markets underpinned by value addition and beneficiation.

farm 4

“We have a programme to increase silos through the GMB, the ARDA system and Command Agriculture, where a farm in a cluster is identified and a silo, dryer and milling plant are built for the benefit of all farmers in the area,” he said.

GMB acting general manager Mr Lawrence Jasi said the parastatal had set a budget of $15 million for rehabilitation of silos and the $50 million required by the company included logistics, fleet, ICTs and other complementary equipment for silo rehabilitation.

“Overhauls will be done on the silos’ machinery to restore them to their rated grain conveyance capacity. The work started in November 2016. Work at Aspindale depot started on February 13 and overhauls will be extended to Banket, Lion’s Den, Concession and Chegutu to complete the works by April 15 in time for the grain intake.

“Storage resources such as empty bags, tarpaulins, gumpoles, rail sleepers, plastic sheets and fumigants, among others, are currently being procured in preparation for the intake season. GMB is an expert in grain handling and the grain will be safe if adequate storage facilities are mobilised,” he said.

Mr Jasi said the GMB, through its major stakeholders, was establishing a strategic grain reserve revolving fund, which would ensure that all scheduled maintenance and repairs were carried out within the specified period for effective efficiency of the storage infrastructure.

As of now, the GMB has a total of 3 973 000 tonnes storage and handling capacity.

This includes 434 300 tonnes of silos, 3 365 000 tonnes of hard stands and 173 700 tonnes of shed storage out of total installed capacity of 4 288 200 tonnes.

Zimbabwe is expecting a bumper harvest following the success of the Command Agriculture programme and support for households under the Presidential Inputs scheme.

This is despite teething challenges related to late disbursement of inputs and spreading its reach to more people due to overwhelming response by farmers.

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