For the first time in years, Zimbabwe is expected to produce enough grain to feed itself where harvest time is in April. This follows good rains in nearly all parts of the country. After experiencing consecutive droughts over the years which was not helped by poor planning, the country has been surviving on food imports and handouts from donors.
Recent statistics released by the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that at least 2.2 million tonnes of maize would be produced at the end of the summer cropping season from the 1.2 million hectares of maize planted.
This is assuming there is an improvement in yields from the previous year’s 0.8 tonnes per hectare to 1.8 tonnes per hectare. Zimbabwe requires 2.2 million tonnes of maize annually for both human and livestock consumption.
Persistent, and at times, heavy rains have been received across the country since the start of the second half of the 2016/17 rainfall season in January. This has resulted in normal to above normal rainfall for the entire country, a striking contrast to the drought conditions experienced during the same period over the past two seasons.
Although other factors such as the fall armyworm; the shortage of fertiliser; water logging and leaching have militated against the 2016/17 crop in some parts of the country, agricultural experts still expect a bumper harvest across all food crops. Zimbabwe expects to produce up to 1.8 million tonnes of the staple maize in 2017 from 512,000 tonnes last year due to good rains received this season, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said recently.
RBZ governor John Mangudya said the favorable rains would boost agricultural productivity and help stimulate economic growth given that the country’s economy was agriculture based.
“The good agricultural season that is anticipated to produce around 1,500,000 – 1,800,000 tonnes of maize and other cereals from 1,595,000 hectares requires government to mobilize funding for the Grain Marketing Board to purchase grain from farmers,” the governor said in the 2017 first-half monetary policy statement. He said cotton seed output was also forecast to rise to 100,000 tonnes from 32,000 tonnes last year.
But Zimbabwe Farmers Union president, Abdul Nyathi, was more conservative saying they were estimating 1.750 million tonnes of maize to be produced because a quarter of the maize crop was destroyed by too much water and was also affected by the fall armyworm.
The 1.750 million tonnes of maize translates to 75 percent of the country’s annual requirements.
Historically, there is a correlation between good rains and good harvests and Zimbabwe will once again bask in the glory of a bumper harvest.
Source: Financial Gazette (Harare)