5 January 2016

Zimbabwe: Report Says Zimbabwe to Step Up Maize Imports to Avert Hunger, Minister Made Noncommittal

ZIMBABWE plans to import up to 700,000 tonnes of the staple maize this year to avert hunger as the El Nino weather pattern brings poor rains and affects crops in the Southern African nation, the state media reported on Tuesday.

Last year, the government imported only 100,000 tonnes as of November, but Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said the country had received less than three quarters of its rainfall needs in November and December, the first two months of the agricultural season, which will worsen food shortages.

The government would allocate $260 million to import between 500,000 and 700,000 tonnes of maize, he said.

The El Nino weather pattern follows last year's drought in Southern Africa and will add misery to the world's poorest continent, already hit by a collapse in commodity prices triggered by China's slowing economic growth.

Agriculture is critical to Zimbabwe's economy, generating 30 percent of export earnings and contributing 19 percent to GDP, while 70 percent of the population still survives on farming.

"It is the government's responsibility to be the main supplier of food," Made was quoted as saying.

"Even if the rains were to come, it will not benefit the crops to the level that we will be secure 100 percent on our own," said Made.

He declined to comment further when contacted by Reuters.

It was not immediately clear how the government would raise money for maize imports as it struggles to pay salaries for public sector workers. The finance minister did not provide funds for maize imports in his 2016 budget, presented on Nov. 26.

Made said the number of people in need of food aid was rising in the western and southern parts of the country.

"We have allowed millers to import grain. Millers have been given permits to import 1.2 million tonnes of maize in the past 12 months but they have only imported 450,000 tonnes," he said.


Tsvangirai, Mujuru Dream Fades

TWO months ago former vice-president Joice Mujuru and ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai breathed life into Zimbabwe's… Read more »

Copyright © 2016 New Zimbabwe. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 1,100 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.