THE country’s maize marketing body, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), now requires about 250 000 tonnes of maize to fill up its coffers, The Patriot has established. GMB, which has been buying grain from farmers, confirmed that it was still receiving maize at its various depots countrywide. Although the producer price has not been officially announced, most farmers have started delivering their grain which experts claim will cut post-harvest costs and losses. Zimbabwe has for the past few years been importing grain from Malawi and Zambia in order to satisfy local demand. However, due to the low prices prevailing in the region and increased production in the maize markets, volumes have steadily shrunk. GMB general manager Albert Mandizha was quoted in recent media reports as saying that about 250 000 tonnes more of grain was required to fill up the national granary reserves. He said the GMB was currently buying maize at US$275 per tonne. “We are buying maize at US$275 per tonne until Government has announced the new price,” Mandizha said. “We encourage farmers to take samples of the maize to the nearest GMB depot for moisture content tests before they transport it to the depots.” Some farmers interviewed by The Patriot indicated that they would be using their grain as chicken feed. Agricultural analysts, however, said early deliveries of the grain would not only help farmers reduce extra costs, but would enable them to earn adequate money for the next planting season. They said taking the grain to proper storage facilities like the GMB would preserve the quantity and lessen the burden on storage for farmers. Some farmers, they said, lacked the expertise and knowledge on how to properly store grain hence the need for experts to impart such skills to the farmers. Mandizha echoed the same sentiments and urged farmers to leave the storage of grain to experts. “Early delivery of the grain will save farmers from extra production costs and postharvest losses,” he said. “When they lose the grain, it will limit them from going back to the field, so they need to leave the handling and storage to us.” Meanwhile, some agricultural players have condemned the move by the GMB to buy grain before the official producer price is announced. GMB officials, however, said they would soon issue a statement.