Massive maize shortage looms

‘Why can’t it be done right for once?’
HARARE - One of the reasons those in Zanu (PF) who aspire to be members of parliament will invest so much money, materials, time, etc campaigning, is the hope of appointment as a minister.
Once you become a minister,

you don’t have to work; you don’t have to know anything at all. You continue to be rewarded for malfeasance, misfeasance or even nonfeasance. You are assured of a permanent career as minister and also a place at Heroes Acre when God, in His divine impartiality, decides to call you above.
How does President Mugabe justify keeping ministers who fail and are corrupt and he admits they are but keeps them? The Minister of Agriculture Hon Made has misled the country for the past six years -with his party’s knowledge and approval.
In March 2006 I said that at best, maize production would be 800 000 tonnes. In May Made announced that the crop forecast was1.8million tonnes. He strangely went on to say that although this was sufficient for the country, imports of maize would continue. Of that production, GMB was likely to get 900 000 tonnes, as farmers normally retain 50% for their own use.
1.8m tonnes would be enough for the country without the strategic reserve. But we know that other experts were refused permission to participate in the crop assessment exercise.
GMB’s financial year is April to March. This means that maize delivered within that period is accounted for as intake for that year. However, farmers deliver their maize from May to early October, depending on the lateness of the season. The peak delivery is July to early August.
The acting CEO of GMB, Col Muvuti, was quoted in the Herald recently (July 6) saying that 80,000 tonnes of maize had been delivered. The Sunday Mirror a few days later said: “Earlier during Saturday’s meeting, Agriculture minister Joseph Made had revealed that to date 100,000 tonnes of maize had been brought into the silos, with the GMB receiving 20,000 tonnes of maize from farmers every week. Made pointed out that there is also a fair supply of crops such as millet, sorghum and groundnuts, a sign that there was a good harvest last season.”
Minister Made naturally got latest figures from GMB for the meeting. If by 15th July a paltry 100 000 metric tonnes of maize had been bought by GMB, how much more will be bought by GMB before the end of deliveries?
There are 10 weeks between now and end of September. Even if we were to be generous and say that weekly deliveries will continue at the current peak of 20,000 tonnes up to the end of September, that will only bring in 200 000 tonnes, making a total of 300 000 tonnes. This means a huge shortage of maize. The delivery trend so far should make a caring government worried. It should trigger food appeal to avert another disaster in the midst of a good rainfall season! In reality, the intake will be much less.
That is why the government is mum on the Financial Gazette article that Z$15 trillion is required for grain imports (Fingaz 13 -19 July 2006).
We appeal to the government to have mercy and compassion for the people by approaching the donors in time. I know that there are continued food imports but US$35m is too much in addition to the current imports, hence my appeal to the government to act now. Why wait until the crisis hits the country and then panic when the signs are so clear? Equally, we are asking the donors to start sensitizing their governments. Why can’t it be done right for once? -Gasela is the MDC secretary for Lands and Agriculture.

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