Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Another consignment of 27 000 tonnes of drought relief maize imported by the Government arrived in Maputo, Mozambique, yesterday and is expected to be railed into Zimbabwe soon.
This comes as the Government steps up efforts to ease maize-meal shortages.
The consignment brings to 42 000 tonnes, the volume of maize imported through Maputo after the initial 15 000 tonnes were received earlier and are already being brought into the country by rail.
The Government has stepped up the procurement of maize to cover harvest shortfalls caused by drought in the past two seasons.
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) spokesman Mr Nyasha Maravanyika yesterday confirmed the delivery of the consignment.
“As we speak, there is a ship that will dock this afternoon (yesterday) in Maputo and the maize will be delivered into the country soon,” he said.
He said NRZ had so far brought in 8 369 tonnes.
“From the 15 000 tonnes that are in Maputo, we have railed 8 369 tonnes, leaving a balance of 6 631. We have 57 wagons that have arrived in Bulawayo, another 29 at Chicualacuala, 65 are at Rutenga while nine are at Dabuka,” he said.
Mr Maravanyika said nine wagons with maize that was imported from Tanzania were in Hwange.
The Government imported 100 000 tonnes of maize from Tanzania late last year.
Mr Maravanyika however, said the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) needed to speed up the offloading at its depots.
“The slow start at GMB has affected the turnaround of the wagons to go and bring in the maize that is at the port. Incessant rains that were experienced in Maputo have also affected the delivery of the grain,” Mr Maravanyika said.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Mozambique, Retired Lieutenant-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, voiced concern over delays in moving the maize.
“We are expecting more maize today (yesterday), but the slow turnaround of wagons is of concern to us because we fear that the grain could be affected by the rains we are receiving,” Lt-Gen (Retired) Nyikayaramba said.
During the 2018-19 summer cropping season, the country harvested 1 442 893 tonnes of maize, leaving the country with a deficit of 761 332 tonnes and imports were required to cover the deficit.
This year’s harvest is still to be calculated.
The Government has allowed private entities to import maize to augment its efforts to cover the grain deficit.
The bulk of the maize being imported is coming from countries in the Sadc region.