Maize shortfall looms despite price increase

grain_mill_zimbabweGMB gets $60m from govt to start buying
HARARE - The country will need about $250 million to import one million tonnes of maize this year, given a projected shortfall in local output of the staple crop, the Commercial Farmers Union said last week.

This is despite government announcing a new producer price of $285 per tonne for maize and all small grains and releasing an initial $60 million to the Grain Marketing Board to start buying.

The money released is enough to buy about 230 000 tonnes of grain and government plans to mobilise more money.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said Cabinet believed the price was based on the true cost of production to enable farmers to remain in business.

“Cabinet approved the price on the basis of motivating the farmers and supporting agricultural productivity at the same time. It is way above import parity and is backdated to April 1, 2011, he said.

“Remember the maize market has been liberalised and there are many buyers who are vying for that same maize, so we need to protect the farmers from middlemen who sometimes come with the other buyers,” Made said.

Made said the price took into cognisance the fact that farmers were producing under very difficult conditions with neither credit facilities nor medium term financing.


CFU president Deon Theron said a total 800 000 tonnes of maize is expected to be harvested locally, from an initial estimate of 1,2 million tonnes.

The initial projection was revised to about 800 000 due to the mid farming season drought experienced in some parts of the season, he said.

Theron said the national maize consumption requirement stood at 1,8 million tonnes per annum. Last year Zimbabwe produced 1,3 million tonnes of maize.

If Zimbabwe is to import (maize) from Malawi it will cost about $280 per tonne, Theron said.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made, however, said figures of how much maize was expected this year were not readily available from government.

He said the countrys national requirement was 2,2 million tonnes and not 1,8 million tonnes as the CFU stated.

Made said: There have been projections of maize production in the country, mostly by organisations that are not based in Zimbabwe. Most of them do not portray the correct situation on the ground. They will be wrong.

Made accused organisations such as USAid-funded Famine Early Warning System (Fewsnet) as not being transparent and sincere when dealing with Zimbabwe, saying government had now resorted to ignoring their projections.

Some agriculture experts, however, said Fewsnets projections were almost close to the ground and accurate, as they deployed experts in all provinces to record the correct situation on the ground.

Theron also forecast a deficit in the production of wheat, Zimbabwes second staple grain. He said farmers had failed to meet annual wheat consumption requirements of around 450 000 tonnes. Zimbabwe needed to import wheat worth over $150 million to meet an expected shortfall of 440 000 tonnes.

At least 60 000 hectares was supposed to be put under wheat this year but farmers had planted only 10 000 hectares.

Figures at a glance


Initial estimate 1,2m tons

Revised estimate 800,000 tons

Produced 2010 1,3m tons

Required 2011 1,8m tons

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