CBZ raises $50m to buy maize

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s largest commercial lender, CBZ, is back on the market to canvas $50 million through Agricultural Marketing Authority bills, to finance the purchase of maize by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

The bills, which opened on Monday this week, have an interest rate of 8,5 percent per year and a 360-day tenure.

This comes as Zimbabwe is seeking nearly $500 million to offset devastating effects of an El Nino-induced drought that has left over 5,5 million people in need of food aid after the country harvested a paltry 511 816 tonnes of maize against national grain requirement of 2,2 million tonnes.

Official figures show that government has so far imported 188 831 tonnes of maize, costing $71,5 million, while the private sector has so far procured 278 000 tonnes in the form of both maize and maize meal, worth over $100 million.

Information gathered by the businessdaily shows that development partners are also supporting government in mitigating the impact of the El Nino-induced drought.

To this end, development partners, who pledged $360 million under their Drought Response Plan for April 2016 — March 2017, have as of July 2016, mobilised $110 million for importation of grain.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently said development partner support was not only towards grain importation, but is also focussing on emergency rehabilitation of some rural water supply points for identified vulnerable households, and school feeding, among others.

“In this regard, $1,5 million has been spent on health and nutrition, while $0,4 million went towards water and sanitation,” he said.

Meanwhile, the GMB has so far received cumulative deliveries of 175 000 tonnes from local farmers worth $68,3 million.

Chinamasa said the un-anticipated deliveries were attributed to government’s timeous payment to farmers as they deliver.

“Currently, payments are being made within 14 days of delivery. Payments made by government so far to farmers for deliveries to the GMB this marketing season amount to $60,3 million, leaving a balance of $7,7 million, which is currently being processed,” he said.

“Resultantly, the GMB is currently holding 273 000 tonnes of maize in stock, inclusive of imports, which at an ex-GMB off-take rate of 35 000 tonnes per month represents seven months of GMB sales,” Chinamasa added.

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