12 April 2013

Zimbabwe: Maize Output Revised Downwards

THE Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has revised downwards 2012's maize output to 800 000 metric tonnes from an initial projection of 1,2 million metric tonnes, owing to a dry spell and poor preparation for the season.

ZCFU president Wonder Chapikwa told businessdigest this week maize output would this year plunge to 800 000 metric tonnes against an annual consumption of 2,2 metric tonnes, due to a dry spell which hit most parts of the country late last year and at the beginning of this year.

The situation was further exacerbated by the late planting season and government's failure to avail inputs on time, further compounded by the fact that most farmers were abandoning growing maize in preference to tobacco.

Chapikwa said the areas most affected by drought included Matabeleland South and North, part of Mashonaland East, while Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces were expected to have a better harvest. He said government's plan to import maize to cover the deficit might be thwarted by high costs of maize, owing to the scarcity of grain in the region.

"There is general shortage of maize in the region, which means the government will be left only with the option to import and at a very high cost," said Chapikwa.

Agriculture in Zimbabwe has been declining on the back of poor financing and poor planning, which have seen the country become a net importer of food over the past decade.

Last year, the country also recorded a deficit in maize production due to a dry spell. Planted hectarage in 2012 declined 19% to 1 689 786 hectares from 2 096 035 hectares of maize planted in the previous year.

Chapikwa, however, said government should prioritise irrigation to revive maize production as waiting for the rain was no longer sustainable owing to changing rainfall patterns globally.

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