Africa: Zimbabwe's Decision to Lift a Ban On GM Maize Imports Could Benefit South Africa in the Near Term

opinion

Necessity is the mother of invention, and this rings true in Zimbabwe where the government is reformulating policy. The Zimbabwe government has for years maintained a ban on the importation or growing of genetically modified maize, but the current food shortages in the country have forced the government to change its policy stance. The ban on GM maize imports was lifted on the 31 January 2020 as the country seeks to improve local supplies following yet another poor harvest season.

Zimbabwe's maize production fell by 53% y/y in the 2018/19 production season to 800,000 tonnes, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture. This was far below the country's annual maize consumption of between 1.8 and 2.0 million tonnes. Therefore, the country had to import at least a million tonnes of maize in order to meet the local supply requirements.

But the dearth of timely and credible data has made it a challenge to track the maize importation activity into Zimbabwe. Observing from reports of food shortages at the beginning of 2020, I am inclined to believe that the country was unable to import the required maize volume for the 2019/20 marketing year (this corresponds with the 2018/19...

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