Zimbabwe Bans maize Imports


Zimbabwe has banned grain imports to protect local farmers a year after a devastating drought left more than 4 million people in the country in need of food aid.

Drought, lack of financing and president Robert Mugabe’s seizures of land from white farmers that hit commercial agriculture were blamed for low grain production over the years.

The country has since 2001 relied on imports and foreign donors to meet the demand for maize.

The bumper harvest is partly credited to a government scheme introduced in 2016 as part of a ‘Command Agriculture’ drive that would pay farmers $390 a ton for maize harvests to encourage farmers to plant.

The program includes farmers receiving seed, fertilizer and chemicals on condition that they sell part of their crop to the state as repayment.

Chief economist Zimbabwe farmers union, Prince Kuipa said “The government engaged the private sector to bring in the required resources in terms of financial resources and then also mobilised the farmers to participate in the Command Agriculture in a programme that is more of contract farming where the government provided the inputs the farmers needed and then the farmers had to go also to the farm to do the production.

“Zimbabwe is expecting around three and a half million metric tonnes of maize against which two and a half metric tonnes is required for food security and then about 350,000 is required for livestock consumption. If you add that you realise that there is a surplus.” He said

Nearly 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s population is rural-based and survives on agriculture.
Maize is the staple crop in the southern African nation.

The country’s grain agency has also raised $200 million from the government and private sector to purchase maize from farmers.

The national treasury has forecast output of the staple maize at about 2 million tonnes this year, from 511,000 tonnes in 2016.

The country’s economy is expected to grow 2.8 percent this year, from 0.7 percent in 2016, due mainly to a bumper maize harvest as the impoverished southern African nation according to the World Bank.


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