Massive harvest one day’s supply?


Dear Family and Friends,

The news in Zimbabwe this week has definitely been cause for saying: if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Inflation raced up by another 150% from last month and now stands at 1193,5%. How are we surviving it? Frankly we aren

’t and yet still the absurdity goes swirling around in the propaganda mill and no one believes a word of it.

This week one of the main stories making headline news on state-owned television was that we are apparently in the process of reaping a bumper harvest. An above average rainy season has produced a bumper maize crop apparently and we should rest assured that there will be abundant food for the next 12 months. The report reminded us that maize is a controlled crop and can only be sold to the state owned GMB (Grain Marketing Board) who are paying Z$31 million for a tonne of maize. There are, apparently, some “unscrupulous traders” who are selling their maize privately for Z$37 millions a tonne and this was illegal and these people would face “the full wrath of the law.”

The GMB army man being interviewed by ZBC TV said that the security of farmers delivering maize to their depots was paramount. As if addressing kindergarten, he said that Z$31 million a tonne represented a lot of money. He said that if a farmer came with 10 tonnes of maize then for sure that man would be in a lot of danger carrying around so much money. For this reason, said the GMB army man, it would be safer if the GMB didn’t pay the farmer all the money at once, it would just be too risky. His exact words were: “we don’t want to put our farmers at risk by making them carry so much cash around.” The army man forgot to mention the fact that inflation is making the money literally worth less for every day the GMB hold back on paying up in full.

The next part of the report was that the GMB have now got 80 permanent and 320 mobile depots where people can deliver their maize. The army man did not acknowledge the fact that the price of fuel went up from Z$200,000 to Z$260,000 dollars in the last seven days so most people can’t afford to move their crop off their front doorstep anyway.

Then the army man told us just exactly how secure the country is as regards our staple food of maize. He said the crop was coming in well so far and that as of last week (around June 1) depots all over the country had a total of 6,000 metric tonnes in store. What? Only 6,000 tonnes – can that be right I thought? Two and then three more times the army man said there were “already 6,000 tonnes in store in GMB depots.”

A few scribbles on a bit of paper followed by days of asking lots of people for their opinions, the result is horrifying. If we assume a population of 12 million people, allow an average consumption of half a kilogram of maize per person per day, then we need 6 thousand tonnes of maize a day. So, we have one day’s worth of food in stock in 400 GMB depots.

The absurdity of this nightmare is the fact that the GMB are actually prepared to give out such horrifying figures on national television.

Don’t they think we can all work these numbers out – even with a stick in the sand in the dusty village. If we don’t laugh we’ll cry. Until next week, Ndini shamwari yenyu

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