May 18, 2006

GMB militarised, soldiers man depots

Government has deployed military personnel to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots across the country to monitor grain deliveries, as multilateral agencies voiced scepticism over official projections that the country produced 1.8 million tonnes of the staple maize during the last agricultural season. Army and government sources told The Financial Gazette that army personnel had been deployed to the state-run GMB depots, where they have introduced a parallel recording of the grain deliveries to that of the GMB and Agricultural Research and Extension Services (AREX) officers. Army insiders said some of their counterparts who are engaged in the countrywide exercise are accommodated at police stations which are close to the GMB depots. They said the army was maintaining its own inventory. "Our personnel are stationed at GMB depots and have their own log books to check on the delivery of grain this year," said the army sources. The insiders also disclosed that the army was taking note of allocations of agricultural inputs such as seed and fertiliser at all GMB depots following reports of abuse and unfair distribution of inputs in the last cropping season. The GMB is currently dispensing inputs to farmers intending to grow wheat this winter under an ambitious exercise to plant 110 hectares and reduce wheat imports. (The Financial Gazette, Harare)

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