Zim remains food secure

ZIMBABWE, which already has 500 000 tonnes of grain reserves, is food secure, as it expects farmers to deliver 1,8 million tonnes during the current marketing season, a senior Government official has said. The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) would be importing an additional 400 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia and Malawi. The mid-season drought experienced in January this year affected harvests.

During an online interactive session with agri-players, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said maize importation had also been opened to private players. “The Government is not importing any maize; we are amassing enough for our SGR (strategic grain reserve) from the current harvest, plus carryover of 500 000 tonnes from last season,” he said. “We only opened borders for private millers who would like to import maize for their own industrial use. “Remember, private millers are now compelled to produce at least 40 percent of their requirements locally, so those who failed to support local production will have to use their own free funds to import.”

It is Government policy, he added, for the private sector to support local grain production. A consortium of local private players, the Food Crops Contractors Association (FCCA), has already been created. “Government, through the ministry, was heavily involved in the creation of FCCA and this winter they are supporting up to 25 000 hectares or over 120 000 tonnes of wheat, which is 33 percent of annual national wheat requirement,” Dr Basera said. In 2020, Government promulgated the joint venture and contract farming frameworks that allow private sector players to engage local farmers for primary production.

Since then, over 2 000 joint ventures that cover 150 000 ha have been approved. Imports According to GMAZ chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Musarara, millers had secured agreements to procure 400 000 tonnes of white maize from Malawi and Zambia to augment local supplies. “I am pleased to inform the nation that GMAZ has secured 400 000 tonnes of white maize from Malawi and Zambia. Forty percent of the maize will be coming from grain utility companies, namely Food Reserve Agency of Zambia and Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) of Malawi.

“Preparations are now underway to ensure that the physical movement of this maize into Zimbabwe commences by no later than June 30, 2022,” he said. Food shortages and rising prices are affecting most parts of the globe as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has disrupted global supply chains. Ukraine has 20 million tonnes of grain in its silos, but faces significant challenges moving consignments to ports for shipments amid the raging war. Dr Basera said Government intends to achieve food security and self-sufficiency at all cost. “We have to do whatever it takes to be food secure and food self-sufficient, and brick by brick, we have to get there,” he said.

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB), he said, had silo storage capacity of up to one million tonnes and the SGR target had been reviewed from 500 000 tonnes to 1,5 million tonnes. “As a result, we have a silo expansion programme for 100 000 tonnes per year for five years,” he said. The National Enhanced Agriculture Productivity Scheme (NEAPS) – formerly known as Command Agriculture – is now funded by banks such as CBZ and AFC, which can efficiently manage risk.

“Command/NEAPS are now straight transactions between the participating banks and farmers. But the model is working perfectly. The most important thing for us is that the banking sector responded positively to the Government’s call to crowd in the private sector to support key sectors of our economy.” Zimbabwe’s 2022 maize production is forecast to be above average, but substantially below the exceptional output of 2021.

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