The government has suspended grain imports up to next year following a self-sufficient season with Zimbabwe projected to save US$300m in the process.
According to the Second Crop, Livestock, and Fisheries Assessment Report, Zimbabwe’s estimated maize production stood at 2 298 281metric tonnes (MT), a 58% increase on the 1 453 031 MT produced in the 2021/2022 season.
This is attributed to well-distributed rainfall received in the country in both space and time.
Anxious Masuka, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister, said both humans and livestock will have adequate consumption.
“In light of the positive 2023 cereal balance sheet, grain importation is not recommended in the next 12 months,” Masuka said in the report.
He said total cereal production is 2 579 247 MT against a national cereal requirement of 1 837 742 MT for human consumption and 450 000 MT for livestock.
Human consumption is computed from a consumption rate of 120kg per person yearly and a national population estimate of 15 146 657.
Farmers said the private sector should participate more to earn foreign currency from the local produce.
The Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Paul Zakariya told Business Times that the country has the potential to do more.
“We are happy that we are not going to import this year but given our good soils and climate conditions, we should now be talking about exporting not saving US$ on potential imports.
“The private sector should do more to complement the government’s efforts to export more,” Zakariya said.
The report said the 2022/2023 season was characterised by an early onset of the rains in most parts of the country with Mashonaland provinces experiencing a rather late onset of the season.
The bulk of the cereal crops were planted in November and December 2022.
The bulk of the cereal crops were planted in November and December.
The earliest effective rains were received towards the end of November in the central and northern parts of the country.
Most southern parts of the country experienced their onset from the third dekad of December.
In comparison to their long-term average precipitation, almost all of the country experienced seasonal rains in the normal category, however, isolated spots in the country’s south received above average.
The report said Cyclone Freddy, which formed in the Indian Ocean in late January 2023, brought heavy rains and strong winds to parts of eastern Zimbabwe, causing damage to crops and infrastructure.
The cyclone also triggered landslides and mudslides in some areas, displacing people.
While incessant rains were received in most parts of the country during January, some parts of Manicaland Masvingo, Matabeleland South, and Matabeleland North provinces generally remained dry with very little planting activity.
Traditional grains production is estimated at 280 966 MT, 45% more than 194 100 MT produced in 2021/2022.
With sorghum production is expected to be 191 125MT, which is 32% more than 144 633 MT obtained in the 2021/2022 season.
Pearl millet production is expected to be at 71 221 MT, which is 61% more than 44 143 MT produced in 2021/2022 and finger millet production is expected to be 18 610 MT, which is a 250% increase from 5 321 MT produced in the 2021/2022 season.
Despite the country having a seasonal surplus of 594 992MT, there are some districts with food insecurity.
“The districts with the least cereal grain produced are Mwenezi, Beitbridge, Gweru, and Chivi.
“Some 18 districts in the Southern Parts of the country will require food assistance. There are, however, wide variations in each district with those households that have produced traditional grains being more food secure,” the Lands ministry said.