Thursday, 23 April 2020

GMB TO IMPORT GMO MAIZE


THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has started importing genetically modified maize for consumption in the country.

Addressing delegates at a Matabeleland North provincial taskforce meeting in Bulawayo yesterday, GMB regional manager Ms Podiso Mafa said GMO positive maize imports started in November 2019.

A leading researcher in GMO technology and the Vice Chancellor of Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University, Professor Christopher Chetsanga, in an interview, said there was nothing wrong with genetically modified foods despite public fears that they were not healthy.

“GMO maize and other GMO foods are not harmful at all. It is properly synthesised scientifically. Modifying that DNA is meant to improve biological material. The whole purpose is to increase productivity, produce high quality plus increased yield per hectare. It is not proven that GMO foods are bad and it is one of the myths that have been talked about a lot. Americans have been eating GMO foods for a while, so have South Africans. We need to exploit such technologies to produce our own and stop importing. This is what Africa, and Zimbabwe needs,” said Professor Chetsanga.
  
Meanwhile, Ms Mafa said millers that produce mealie-meal are getting GMO maize while social welfare food scheme beneficiaries are getting non-GMO grain.

Ms Mafa added that the maize was escorted enroute to millers so that it was not diverted to undesignated destinations.

“We started getting GMO imported maize in November 2019. It is strictly for millers and it is under escort when it is going to millers. We are currently receiving imported grain from South Africa that is non-GMO maize which we distribute to districts and provinces and we are also receiving GMO positive grain which is distributed to all millers especially in Bulawayo (in the Southern region provinces) but for millers outside Bulawayo we are distributing non-GMO maize.

“Every district currently has some maize for social welfare purposes. The total balance as of yesterday for Mat North was 3 900 metric tonnes, with Binga having 285 metric tonnes, Hwange 6589 metric tonnes, Lupane 520 metric tonnes, Lusulu 2055 metric tonnes and Nkayi at 48 metric tonnes,” said Ms Mafa. 

She said there were challenges in transporting grain to Nkayi due to bad roads, hence the lowest number of tonnages at the districts.

“Nyamandlovu has 96 metric tonnes of grain, Bubi has 102 metric tonnes, and Tsholotsho district has 134 metric tonnes. The total grain available at the province is 3 900 metric tonnes. We are trying to decongest Bulawayo and the maize in Bulawayo must go to Mat North and Mat South as well. All grain must go to its intended destinations,” said Ms Mafa.

She said the province had enough grain for social welfare for the month of April.

“We have so far distributed 50 percent of grain and I can say that the province has enough for the month of April although there are challenges in distribution here and there,” said Ms Mafa. Chronicle

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