GOVERNMENT is importing an average 120 tonnes of maize from South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post daily, as efforts intensify to ensure food security.
The imports are part of a cocktail of measures being rolled out to mitigate effects of last year’s drought that saw the country harvest slightly above 700 000 tonnes of maize, against an annual demand of 2,4 million tonnes for both human and livestock consumption.
Over the past week, the country has also taken delivery of at least 42 000 tonnes of maize imported from Tanzania and is being transported via Mozambique. Government purchased 100 000 tonnes of the staple from Tanzania as part of an extensive importation strategy since mid-last year.
More maize is expected from Uganda.
Grain millers need about 218 tonnes of maize daily for the production of mealie-meal.
To cushion the food-insecure households, Government has extended subsidies to millers producing non-refined mealie-meal, which is being sold for $70 for 10 kg pack, compared to refined brands which cost double the amount.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) spokesperson Mr Francis Chimanda confirmed that authorities were processing at least 120 tonnes of maize daily at Beitbridge Border Post.
“We estimate 2 520 tonnes of grain was received from February 1 to February 21 2020. An average 120 metric tonnes of maize is being imported daily through Beitbridge Border Post,” he said.
Mr Chimanda said Government had scrapped Value Added Tax (VAT) on imported grain.
Furthermore, individuals were also permitted to import a maximum of 50 kg of mealie-meal duty-free, at any given time.
The individual imports, he said, must be declared on the F49 forms.
Mr Chimanda added that commercial importers of maize “must meet certain requirements including a valid agricultural permit, bio-safety permit and Agricultural Market Authority clearance.”
Late last year, Government lifted a ban on private grain sales and granted those with free funds permission to import maize quantities of their choice to complement Treasury’s efforts to enhance national grain reserves. Zimbabwe has been importing maize to ensure food security, with about 750 000 tonnes having been set aside to assist vulnerable groups.
The country is pinning hope on the current rains for a better seasonal harvest.This comes after a dry spell in December had dampened hopes of many farmers.
The general adverse weather patterns have been attributed to the effects of climate change.