Zimbabwe hopeful of hitting maize collection target

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HARARE, ZIMBABWE - AUGUST 01: Corn is graded at Ivordale Farm on August 1, 2018 outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Commercial farmer Andrew Pascoe runs the 330-hectare farm east of Harare. His father started the business in the 1950’s. The farm grows wheat mostly, maize and Soya Beans, with a dairy herd of 170 cows, a further 280 for beef, plus a piggery with 1200 animals. Before the land reform ‘initiative’, Mr Pascoe owned 1725 Hectares but was left with only 224, only 60 of which that was arable. He currently runs the 60 hectares of his own land, with the rest falling under a ‘joint venture’ program. In 2000 the then President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, ran a land reform program that aimed to redistribute the farm land mostly owned by white Zimbabweans, to black subsistence farmers. The policy was seen as a disaster, with around 4000 white farmers forcibly removed from their farms, often violently. The policy crippled the agricultural sector and subsequently contributed to the collapse of the economy as those that took over the land lacked the knowledge to run the businesses. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Efforts by authorities in Zimbabwe to improve the country’s food security are bearing fruit with the nation reporting a significant increase in deliveries of maize, a staple food crop in the country.

The Grain Marketing Board reported that more than 900,000 tonnes of maize had been delivered between April and September compared to just 138,000 tonnes during a similar period last year.

FILE PHOTO: Maize is graded at a farm outside Harare, Zimbabwe. /Getty Images

The board remains “well on course” to hit its target of 1.8 million tonnes given they are still receiving grain from farmers, according to the chief executive Rockie Mutenha. Zimbabwe’s national production is currently estimated at around 2.8 million tonnes.

“The ongoing grain intake season is proceeding well compared to the same period last year,” Mutenha said.

Zimbabwe suffered a devastating drought last year which saw it produce 900,000 tonnes with 170,000 tonnes being delivered to the country’s national granary.

Even though Zimbabwe may fail to achieve its target, some experts are not overly concerned about a possible food shortage situation as they believe several households have enough food stocks to carry them through to the next harvesting period.

Despite a slight drop in weekly deliveries, which are at about 50 percent, analysts argue that deliveries may be boosted by a good harvest season.

Another indicator of the improvement in grain supply is the fact that maize prices, which tend to surge during this period, according to local media, have remained largely stable.

Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector has rebounded impressively after the challenges of last year’s severe drought. In July, senior officials in the cotton industry said they expected to exceed an initial projection of 150,000 tonnes of cotton produced this season making it the highest such yield in five years.

Last month, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said poultry production this year was expected to rebound from a decline in 2020 due to a successful crop season.

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