Zambia will not fulfil Zimbabwe’s food requirements
ZAMBIA can only supply 400 000 metric tonnes over the next 10 months against the 700 000 mt that Zimbabwe is targeting to purchase from the country due to logistical challenges and an un-flexible border post.
Because of this, the Grain Traders Association of Zimbabwe(GTAZ) has called on Government to consider alternative import channels and scrap the GMO free rule.
Speaking at the Food Conference in Harare on Thursday, GTAZ chairman Graeme Murdoch said the country will not be able to get all its requirements from Zambia and could not get from countries such as South Africa as the country still has a ban on GMO products.
“Although we are targeting to purchase over 700 000mt, Zambia can only supply 400 000mt over the next 10 months. The country can only move 40 000mt per month due to logistical challenges such as limited border operating hours and acquisition of the requisite GMO free certificate on every consignment.
“We should therefore not rely on a single channel to get our maize into the country; the only other viable option is South Africa which has a small surplus for export. We need to secure that surplus before its late, However this would mean government has to address the issue regarding GMO’s because 70% of South African crops are GMO’s,” he said.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made said the Government had started importing maize from Zambia as it grapples to deal with the 780 000mt maize deficit in the country.
Made said the country had imported 1 800mt of maize while the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has to date purchased 20 000mt from local farmers
“We have started importing maize into the country by rail to deal with the 780 000mt deficit in the country. Each train carries 900mt; we have imported 1800mt to date that have been delivered at our Bulawayo depot. We have another 1300mt in transit.
“At GMB, 4000mt weekly. Government is paying what we owe farmers for deliveries already made to GMB. Our efforts will be complemented by private sector players that have been authorized to import both grain and mealie-meal for direct marketing to millers or individuals. The ratio of mealie-meal imports will however be lesser,” he said.
Made said Government will now push for push early short season varieties which will be irrigated to boost maize production. He said the ministry will also intensify specialist extension officers for both crops and livestock and agricultural mechanisation and irrigation programs.
The minister said 808 829mt of cereals were produced in the 2014/15 agricultural season, while 471 480mt of Irish potatoes were produced in the same period. Production of sweet potatoes stood at 400 000mt for the period while 374 231 pulses were produced in the period. -FinX