GMB refurbishes 10 silos countrywide

HARARE - The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has said 10 out of 12 silos at the country’s leading grain trade institution which had crumbled under years of neglect have now been refurbished.

The national granary, which is owed $81 million by Treasury and posted a mortifying loss of over $208 million last year, did not reveal how much they had invested in the refurbishment exercise or the origins of the funds.

This comes after the auditor general’s report covering the period April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012 revealed that GMB’s silos across the country required over $50 million for repairs to avert further deterioration.

Presenting oral evidence before the parliamentary committee on Public Accounts, GMB general manager Rockie Mutenha said the national granary was on the mend.

“Mr Chair(man), we have 12 silo depots and out of the 12, we have refurbished and waterproofed 10 of them. The two that are outstanding are metal silos, one in Hurungwe and the other in Chiweshe, which are at almost 85 percent refurbished,” Mutenha said.

This came amid concern that most of the silos are unfit to store maize for human consumption as large volumes of water had penetrated the structures over the years.

The question had originated from MDC Bulawayo South legislator Eddie Cross who asked why maize was stacked in the open.

Meanwhile, GMB deputy general manager Clemence Guta said the institution was owed in excess of $81 million by Treasury.

“As we stand now, Treasury owes about roughly $81 million in terms of storage and handling fees and if we are to have that, we should be able to liquidate all our debts.

“We have actually engaged Treasury and they are taking care of our payee obligations and they have also helped us in respect to what we are owing to sister parastatals,” he said.

On Command Agriculture, Mutenha said the programme had been a success and helped boost food production.

“Command Agriculture has actually boosted production of maize and that’s the 1,2 million tonnes of maize we are talking of we are not saying all of it was (from) Command Agriculture but it has contributed significantly and we wish it can continue,” Mutenha said.