Maize grain availability remains subdued despite high import bill

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Zimbabwe imported maize worthy US$282.5 million in 2020, averaging US$23.5 million per month.

HARARE, Maize grain availability in Zimbabwe remained subdued as of December 2020, while only maize meal was available on some markets, a report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) shows.

Zimbabwe has been a net importer of food for the past four decades, with maize imports averaging 1,1 million Metric Tonnes (MT) per year in the last 10 years. National demand for maize stands at 2,1 million MT for industrial and domestic consumption.

To alleviate shortages and cushion the general populace from the spiraling inflation, the Government introduced grain subsidiaries, but supplies have remained limited.

Zimbabwe imported maize worth US$282.5 million in 2020, averaging US$23.5 million per month. In 2019, the country imported maize worth US$125.8 million averaging US$10.5 million per month, a difference of 125% to the 2020 annual figure.

Subsidised maize meal has not been fully available in shops while prices of basic goods soar beyond the reach of many. Hopes of an economic recovery are quickly fading away under the new administration overshadowed by a series of policy inconsistencies.

There is, however, high hopes of a bumper harvest for the 2020/21 farming season underpinned on the Pfumvudza programme.

In his 2021 National Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube predicted that Pfumvudza’s total harvest would reach over two million tonnes.

Meanwhile, according to FEWS NET, regional supplies for the 2020/21 marketing year are expected to remain average to above average.

“South Africa is expected to export average to above average volumes to maize deficit countries. Zambia’s maize grain export ban is expected to remain in place, although government to government exports remain likely (especially with the DRC).

“Regional informal trade flows are expected to remain dynamic through the lean season. Maize prices will continue to increase seasonally through the 2020/21 lean season and will remain above average,” FEWS NET said.

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