THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture has sent questions to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as part of its probe into the country’s food production estimates. <
The committee will start work soon after President Robert Mugabe opens the Fifth Session of the Fourth Parliament in a fortnight.
The Zimbabwe Independent this week established that the committee sent questions to the GMB and the Central Statistical Office (CSO) requesting information regarding the country’s food situation.
The portfolio committee chairman, Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, said they had hoped to start assessing GMB stocks as well as verifying data obtained from the CSO last week.
“We were hoping to have begun the assessment on Tuesday (last week) but we couldn’t because we haven’t yet got enough replies from the GMB and the Central Statistical Office,” said Ncube in an interview last week.
“But we will start soon after the opening of the Fifth Session of Parliament.”
Mugabe will open the Fifth Session of the Fourth Parliament of Zimbabwe on July 20.
The committee was given the green light by parliament to assess the food situation in view of the controversy following claims by Mugabe and his government that the country had enough food. Independent surveys have predicted food shortages later in the year.
The United Nations, which had its crop assessment team kicked out of Zimbabwe two months ago, recently said about 2,3 million Zimbabweans would need food assistance this year.
The latest report by the Famine Early Warning Network (Fewsnet) said Zimbabwe was projected to face an overall cereal deficit of 612 000 tonnes.
“Our focus is to look at the crop situation in retrospect, compare with the paperwork by the GMB and the CSO to establish whether there is consistence,” Ncube said.
“After that we will want to go around the country – resources permitting – or alternatively use the sampling method to assess GMB depots.”
Among the questions sent to the GMB and the CSO by the committee are requests for information regarding importations. “We have also asked the GMB to clarify the situation regarding importation. How much they have imported, when and under what circumstances.”
Government has denied reports that it is secretly importing grain.