Zimbabwe will import 400 000 tonnes of white maize from neighbouring Zambia and Malawi, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) said, as the country faces a reduced harvest this year blamed on erratic rains.
Zimbabwe has faced food insecurity since the turn of the century when it seized white-owned farms. The country has also endured frequent droughts over the years, with conditions expected to worsen as temperatures rise due to climate change.
The government has forecast maize production for the 2021/22 season at 1.56 million tonnes, down from the previous season’s multi-year record of 2.72 million tonnes.
Zimbabwe requires 2.2 million tonnes annually for human and livestock consumption and the government has encouraged private millers and producers of livestock feed to import some grain to plug the deficit.
In a recent statement, GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said:
I am pleased to inform the nation that GMAZ has secured 400,000 metric tonnes of white maize from Malawi and Zambia.
He said Zimbabwe expects to start receiving the maize from the end of June.
ZimLive reports that Zimbabwe’s millers have been increasing prices, citing higher import and production costs. The government responded by allowing citizens to import maize meal and other food items duty-free.
Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of the Southern African region. Some of the farmers in Zambia left Zimbabwe during the chaotic fast track land reform programme at the turn of the millennium.