WASHINGTON DC —
The Ministry of Agriculture says it needs at least $51 million to establish Zimbabwe’s strategic grain reserves with the bulk of the money going towards the rehabilitation of silos and setting up a transport fleet for the cash-strapped Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
According to the state-controlled New Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News Agency, sources of funding have been identified and presented to the Ministry of Finance for finalization.
Silo rehabilitation is expected to gobble $31 million while 13 million will be used to set up the vehicle fleet. Indications are that $7 million will go towards developing what the ministry says is information and communication technology infrastructure.
GMB executives declined to comment saying they can only respond to written questions while Agriculture Minister Joseph Made did not respond to several phone calls.
Critics say Zimbabwe cannot afford to use such a huge amount of money to set up grain reserves when it is failing to feed millions of people affected by the drought and heavy rains in Matabeleland Matabeleland, Masvingo, Manicaland, Midlands and other provinces.
One of the critics is Parliamentary Agriculture Committee member, Moses Jiri, who said this program is ill-timed as millions of Zimbabweans currently need drought relief aid.
Development worker, Everson Ndlovu, agreed, adding the Ministry of Agriculture should use the money to buy maize from neighbouring nations to feed the needy.
Commercial farmer Themba Dlodlo of Mbangazitha Farm, Matabeleland South Province, said the money should be used for training farmers and agricultural extension workers.
The GMB says it wants to build strategic grain reserves of up to 250 metric tonnes this year.