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Zim set to harvest nearly 1 million tonnes of grain

Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe is now expecting to harvest about one million tonnes of grain this season despite a ravaging drought that has hit the country and the region, preliminary indications show.

According to the preliminary food security outlook for April this year to March next year produced by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Zimbabwe should harvest 868 273 tonnes of summer grains over the next few months, a 62 percent reduction from the target of 2 283 272 tonnes.

About 696 116 tonnes of maize and 172 157 tonnes of traditional grains are anticipated this season.

As a result, Government has scaled up measures to curb expected food shortages in many families by ensuring vulnerable households receive grain, with the amount for each family based on the number of people in the household.

Last season Zimbabwe produced 2,3 million tonnes of maize and 300 000 tonnes of traditional grains in the summer season, which did build up large holdings after the requirements of households and industry were met.

Inadequate rains in the region’s key grain-producing countries such as South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe will result in a decline in harvesting, affecting the food security position of the entire region.

The report noted that current cereal stocks stand at 462 273 tonnes excluding farmers’ stocks, that which farmers held back after the last harvest for their family and farm needs.

The Grain Marketing Board currently holds 145 604 tonnes of maize, 43 964 tonnes of traditional grains and 244 705 tonnes of wheat.

Midlands should have the largest maize harvest this season with 381 056 tonnes, Mashonaland West 290 005 tonnes, Manicaland 266 901 tonnes, Mashonaland East 225 675 tonnes, Mashonaland Central 207 966 tonnes, Masvingo 172 215 tonnes, Matabeleland North 95 726 tonnes and Matabeleland South 89 353 tonnes.

“It is assumed that the private sector will import 100 percent requirement for stock feeds while the Government concentrates on meeting the human consumption deficit at 85 percent consumption and 7,67kg per person per month. 

“The Government should aim to close the gap of 318 723 tonnes while the private sector can import as much as they want. Combining maize, traditional grains and wheat, the strategic grain reserve is 434 293 tonnes excluding the Russia donation to the President of 25 000 tonnes,’’ said the ministry.

Zimbabwe’s budgeted annual consumption of maize and traditional grains is 2,2 million tonnes with 1,8 million tonnes allocated for food and 400 000 tonnes for stock feed.

The Government also introduced new measures aimed at ensuring food availability which will take effect in July. These include duty waivers on the importation of rice, maize, potato seed, cooking oil and genetically modified maize for stock feed, whose milling and distribution will be strictly supervised.

The Cabinet also approved the removal of value added tax on rice and potato seed to make them cheaper.

Crops such as rice and potatoes substitute maize and traditional grains as part of the diet.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri said import of grain by the private sector must be expedited, adding that there is a need for a multifaceted approach involving all state entities consistent with the whole-of-Government approach being initiated by the Second Republic.

“The private sector must no longer buy from GMB but they should import so that the strategic grain reserve must be now reserved for the vulnerable under food mitigation measures or for social protection,” he said

Prof Jiri also indicated that the Government was increasing irrigation the thrust to raise production.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Dr Shadreck Makombe said there is need to scale up food distribution.

“Not all places are food insecure but we urge the Government to identify places which need assistance so that they scale up food distribution in such places. We are sure that we can win the war if the private sector partners with the Government to make sure that we have adequate grain that will sustain families. We also urge the Government to increase imports of grain,” he said.

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president, Mrs Depinah Nkomo said if the private sector came on board to partner the Government, the country would remain food secure.

“We believe the partnership that exists between the Government and private sector will ensure that no one will die of hunger. We also appeal for them to increase irrigation schemes to ensure that in the future we have more crops under irrigation as a mitigatory measure of climate proofing agriculture,” she said.

Zambia planted 2,2 million ha and is expecting 2,8 million tonnes while South Africa is expecting 14.36 million tonnes, a 12,6 percent reduction from the previous year.

Tanzania may have a surplus and Mozambique will have a shortfall as will Botswana and Namibia.

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