THE government has secured $200 million in lines of credit for grain imports, as it steps up efforts to ensure that no one will starve due to drought that has hit the country this season, a senior official has said.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya said although more was needed, the funds would cover a long period of food supplies.
Mangudya was speaking while making an intervention at the Herald Business and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Economic Outlook Symposium in Harare yesterday. “Right now we’ve secured lines of credit for about $200 million to pay for the maize from September going forward,” he said. “We still need more, but for now I don’t want people to panic.”
The symposium, hosted by Herald Business in partnership with CZI, brought together captains of industry, government ministers and policymakers to deliberate on the economic environment, with a view to finding common ground on various issues facing the country.
While dispelling reports that Zimbabwe required over a million tonnes of maize to see through the season, Mangudya said although more grain was still needed, there were enough stocks to take the country for almost a year. “We don’t need one million tonnes of maize for now,” he said. “The maize that’s there in Zimbabwe is good for the next eight months or so.”
Zimbabwe has received poor and erratic rainfall this farming season, as the drought blamed on the El Nino phenomenon has affected most crops, threatening yields. This made the government take several measures to guarantee food security, including importing maize from other countries, allowing free movement of grain from areas of supplers and encouraging private importers to bring their own maize.
The $200 million lines of credit that the country has secured for grain are part of government’s initiatives focused on mobilising food to ensure that there is enough grain in the country. The other initiative is for the Grain Marketing Board to import 230,000 tonnes of maize, starting with 30,000 which are urgently required.
The State Procurement Board has already approved the GMB’s request for the 30,000 tonnes and is considering another tender for the remaining 200,000 tonnes.
Early this week, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said government was mobilising food to mitigate the effects of a drought using its own resources, but international organisations were free to chip in.
In discussions with the European Union ambassador Philippe Van Damme who had paid a courtesy call on him at his Munhumutapa offices, Acting President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was not sitting on its laurels.
Zimbabwe requires about 1,8 million tonnes of grain for human and livestock consumption per annum.
The country is importing between 500,000 and 700,000 tonnes of maize, most of which has already been procured.
A private sector initiative launched last year is expected to import a further 700,000 tonnes to complement government efforts to avert food shortages.
The government has given millers permits to import 1,2 million tonnes of maize in the past 12 months.
Millers are seized with logistics for the urgent importation of maize from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and South Africa as they seek to play a part in mitigating the effects of the drought that has affected most parts of Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe.
The millers’ initiative to import grain is expected to run until July 30 this year.