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Zimbabwe’s maize harvest not in good shape.

It is always difficult to get a good handle of Zimbabwe’s maize production data. I tend to rely more on the International Grains Council and United States Department of Agriculture for a better picture of crop conditions there, as they have their people on the ground to do the survey.

As stated in an article earlier in the year, the International Grains Council projected a notable decline of 45% year-on-year in Zimbabwe’s maize production in 2018/19 to 1.2 million tonnes.

Given that Zimbabwe’s maize carryover stock of roughly 458 000 tonnes from the 2018/19 marketing year might not be sufficient to boost its maize supplies in the 2019/20 marketing year, the country could remain a net importer of maize (2019/20 marketing year corresponds with 2018/19 production season).

If we account for the fact that Zimbabwe’s maize consumption typically varies between 1.8 million and 2.0 million tonnes, then maize imports for the 2019/20 marketing year will most likely amount to 400 000 tonnes.

But, the numbers quoted in a Zimbabwean newspaper, Bulawayo 24 News, this evening paint a much gloomier picture. Citing Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, the paper notes that Zimbabwe’s maize production could amount to 900 000 tonnes. Now if you do the math, using the figures provided above, this would mean that Zimbabwe will have to import at least 700 000 tonnes in the 2019/20 marketing year. This is not a good picture in a country that is having foreign exchange liquidity issues.

I will keep a close eye to see how things pan out in the coming months.

To close on a positive note, the weather conditions have somewhat improved in parts of Zimbabwe, and that could slightly improve crop conditions in late-planted areas, although it is unclear for now if that will lead to a notable improvement in crop yields.

Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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