Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
GOVERNMENT has given the greenlight to individuals and corporates with free funds to import any quantities of grain into the country to complement Treasury efforts in ensuring adequate food reserves.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister, Retired Air Chief Marshall Perrance Shiri, said those intending to do so can obtain the required licensing from relevant authorities.
“All those who want to import grain are free to do so, be it for domestic consumption or resale. It is up to the individual. Import licences can be secured from the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture. There is no limit to the amount of grain you can import into the country,” he said.
“One will actually be complementing Government efforts by importing grain. If there is anyone who intends to import, they are most welcome to do so and they can approach AMA for the necessary licences.
“Licences can easily be availed so that those with free funds can actually import grain into the country.”
The intervention comes at a time Zimbabwe has suffered reduced yields as a result of drought experienced in the last season.
The country needs an estimated 800 000 tonnes of maize imports to cover the gap up to the next harvesting season, and Government has assured the nation that no one will starve.
The country, whose national grain requirements stand at 1,8 million tonnes, will be importing the bulk of the maize from Southern African countries. The National Railways of Zimbabwe has already started bringing in part of the grain consignment imported from Tanzania.
Although Government had earlier banned private grain sales and restricted the business to GMB, the Minister explained that all Government efforts regarding grain imports were informed by the fact that the country did not get enough cereals or grain last season due to drought, hence the need to prioritise allocations.
“As a result, Government has had to put into place arrangements for the importation of grain. The grain that is being imported shall be for human, livestock consumption and other industrial uses.
“Government is one such buyer and supplier of cereals, there is nothing which stops all other players in the industry from importing their own cereal requirements,” Minister Shiri said.
He noted that while Government was seized with grain allocations to those in critical need for human consumption, farmers could access some spoilt grain from GMB, which may not necessarily be suitable for human consumption but could be used as livestock feed.
Minister Shiri revealed the new guidelines while responding to questions during a Senate sitting session in Harare last week.
This was after Senator Elias Mudzuri had sought clarity on Government policy regarding sustainability of small stock industries such as piggery and poultry.
Sen Mudzuri had argued that farmers were unable to access grain for purposes of animal feed at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots.
The Upper House discussed the urgent need to also prioritise stockfeed and noted in particular concerns over livestock death mainly in the southern parts of the country. Members suggested that Government sets aside a portion of grain reserves to assist the livestock sector, which is a critical arm of the economy.
Farmers were also urged to embark on an exercise of harvesting hay and using it to supplement the requirements of cattle feed.