Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Grain import ban lifted

Grain import ban lifted



Oliver Kazunga Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE has secured 600,000 tonnes of maize from Zambia to boost the country’s reserves in the wake of imminent food shortage due to drought. The move follows the lifting of a ban on importation of grain to curb the possibility of mealie meal shortage. The government rung a warning recently when it declared most crops planted in the 2014/15 farming season to be a write-off.

Erratic rainfall received this season has dampened prospects of a good harvest with provinces, mainly those in the south, already working on setting up committees to look at the food situation.

The government has, however, assured the nation that no one would starve as efforts are underway to secure enough food throughout the year.

Yesterday the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) reported it had concluded a deal to procure 600,000 tonnes of maize from Zambia.

The organisation’s president Tafadzwa Musarara told Chronicle that milling firms would be importing maize from Zambia, which has excess stocks of grain from the previous season.

“We’ve concluded a 600,000 tonnes supply deal with the Grain Traders of Zambia who have also promised us that their government will protect this export quota from any possible export ban,” said Musarara.

“This quantum should be sufficient to complement local harvest and will see us through to May 2016.”

Zimbabwe has not been receiving good rains in the past few years resulting in poor harvests and low yields.

During the 2012/13 farming season the country had a similar experience, which resulted in the importation of 150,000 tonnes of grain, also from Zambia. Maize imports were, however, banned last year when the country had a bumper harvest as the government sought to protect local producers.

Musarara said the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development had lifted the ban, adding that their members were now allowed to import maize. “We’ve been importing grain from Zambia since January,” he said.

He allayed fears of mealie-meal retail price increases saying a comprehensive plan had been put in place to ensure the price remains stable.

“We’ve put in place a comprehensive plan on time and locked on prices. The retail prices of maize will remain the same,” he said.

A snap survey carried out by Chronicle in Bulawayo yesterday revealed that major retail outlets were selling a 5kg of mealie-meal for between $2,99 and $3,99.

A 10kg went for between $5,45 and $7,59 while a 20kg ranged from $11,85 and $15,09.

In the last farming season, two million hectares were put under grain.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made is on record saying 300,000 hectares of maize fields were already a write-off.

The minister and his deputy in charge of crops, Cde Davies Marapira were not reachable for comment by the time of going to print yesterday as their mobile phones were not reachable.

Zimbabwe has a national demand of two million tonnes of maize annually.


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