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Private firms free to import grain: Minister

The Ministry of Lands and Agriculture says private players are allowed to import grain for either consumption or resale purposes at a time when the country is in dire need of maize supplies due to the devastating effects of drought.

Recently, the government took delivery of 17 000 tonnes of maize from Tanzania to avert a crisis as more than two million Zimbabweans are in danger of starvation.

Addressing senators in Parliament, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Rtd Air Chief Marshall Perence Shiri said grain import by members of the public would be a welcome gesture as they would be complimenting government efforts to avail the scarce commodity.

Rtd Air Marshall Shiri explained that due to the effects of El Nino, the Government has had to put in place arrangements for the importation of grain.

He noted that to date the government has been allocating as much grain as possible to all those in need.

“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 are any who intend to import, they are most welcome to do so and they can approach AMA for the necessary licenses.”

He added that some of the spoiled grain which would have been deemed not suitable for human consumption has been set aside to serve as livestock feed.

Shiri said the government is alive to the fact that grain also serves as stock feed and such livestock as swine and chickens will be given first preference.

“We understand that cattle are among livestock in need of grain, but in these mean times we may want to prioritise livestock such as swine and chickens because they do not feed on anything else other than grain. Farmers can embark on an exercise of harvesting hay or stover and using it to supplement the requirements of cattle feed,” he said.

The minister promised that his team would immediately attend to the issue of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) rejecting mobile money payment methods from those who wish to buy spoiled grain for stock feed.

He said any form of payment which is legitimate should be permissible and there is no reason to reject it.

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