Govt imports maize, wheat from SA

GOVERNMENT has resorted to secretly importing grain to cover the imminent shortages the country is facing as solutions to the food crisis continue to elude the authorities.


Letters between Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Ag

riculture minister Joseph Made show government is seeking resources to immediately import 350 000 tonnes of maize and 120 000 tonnes of wheat to mitigate looming shortages.


In a letter to Made, Gono said the central bank had secured a loan facility for maize importation from a Botswana bank.


Gono’s letter dated October 3 informed Made that the Reserve Bank had managed to secure an additional US$12 million facility with ABC Bank Botswana for the importation of maize.


“We strongly recommend that we anchor the country’s food security through far-sighted investment in strategic grain reserves.


“It is for this reason that the 35 000 tonnes (of maize) that will be unlocked from this facility ought to be set aside as a contingent base,” the letter reads.


Government’s target is to have brought into the country up to 350 000 tonnes by February 2007.


“I will continue to brief you, Hon Minister, on any other future facilities as we work to hit an interim target of at least 350 000 tonnes in strategic grain reserves by February 2007,” Gono said.


In the same letter, Gono said they were already importing wheat to augment a paltry harvest expected this year. — Staff Writer.