19 June 2019

Africa: After Floods, Zimbabwe and Mozambique Face Huge Maize Shortfalls

Zimbabwe's 2019 maize crop is set to come in at half that of 2018 and Mozambique's at a quarter. To make it worse, SA will probably not have much excess -- and the result is fast-rising maize prices.

The subject of maize needs will soon dominate the headlines in Zimbabwe and, to a certain extent, Mozambique. These two countries are set to record poor maize harvests due to droughts which delayed plantings at the start of the 2019 season, and when it finally rained, it became rather excessive, as was witnessed during Cyclone Idai at the start of the year.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecast Zimbabwe's 2019 maize production at 800,000 tonnes, down by 53% from the previous year. This is not even half of what Zimbabwe consumes a year, which is roughly 2.0 million tonnes. So, there will surely be large volumes of imports throughout the 2019/20 period.

At least the authorities have grasped the urgency of the situation. The Zimbabwean Grain Marketing Board has recently issued a tender to buy 750,000 tonnes of maize, which will be the largest volume since 2016 when the country imported 1.4 million tonnes.

It is unclear, however, where Zimbabwe...

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