Govt prepares for bumper harvest; increases storage capacity

Government has put in place measures to avoid post-harvest losses as the country anticipates a bumper harvest this summer cropping season.

The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa briefed the media this Tuesday about a cabinet resolution to re-establish a directorate that will deal with proper storage of grain.

“In that regard, the Directorate of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation has been re-established, with a dedicated Department of Post-Harvest Technology and Storage Engineering to safeguard harvests.

“Information and advice on best grain storage practices will thus be produced and disseminated through pamphlets the national television and radio programmes, bulk SMS and field days. Safe storage practices demonstrations using metal silos, granaries, cocoons, haematic bags and ordinary bags have also been budgeted for,” said the minister. 

Minister Mutsvangwa added, “Regarding the supply of combine harvesters for the efficient and timeous harvesting of grain, an additional 72 and 21 combine harvesters from the John Deere Facility and the Belarus Programme will be mobilised, respectively.

“Government is also mobilising internal capacity for combine harvesting through the repair of 25 non-functional combines which are owned by institutions and individuals.”

She said a total of 200 shellers, which will be made available through the Land Bank Special Purpose Vehicle, ARDA and GMB on a cost recovery basis, will be produced by the local industry for use in harvesting 200 000 hectares for the 120-day harvesting period.

“In the same vein, the Ministry is importing an additional 13 mobile grain dryers from Italy, to the tune of US$1.3 million each, with a capacity of 28 metric tonnes per shift and up to 140 metric tonnes per day,” minister Mutsvangwa said.

“Modalities for grain mobilisation, purchase, storage and infrastructure upgrading are already at an advanced stage, with 665 COTTCO collection and buying points having been earmarked for use by the GMB as additional collection points. In terms of payment to farmers, which has all along been based on a centralised system, the GMB is working on a decentralised payment system to be administered at the depots in order to guarantee the timeous payment of farmers for delivered grain.

“Government assures the farmers that adequate measures have been put in place to stem post-harvest losses in the light of the above normal rains  being received across the country,” she said.

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