• 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.

  • Zimbabwe's controversial land reform programme, which left most of its land without collateral value has meant the country is now carrying a dead asset, its Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube has said.

  • Zimbabwe prepares for the opening of the 2019 Tobacco Marketing season set to start on the 21st of March, the local market is hyped up in anticipation. In 2018, Zimbabwe produced an all-time high of 252.6 million kgs of leaf tobacco and raked $892 million from exports of 184 million kgs of the commodity to the world market.

  • Even in the advent of massive textile influx from China and second-hand clothes from other countries, cotton farming is still regarded highly in Zimbabwe.

  •  The latest UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s annual Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition Report highlighted drought as one of the key factors contributing to the continuing rise in the number of hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa. And in South Africa, the Government’s Crop Estimates Committee announced that the country would harvest 20 percent less maize in 2019 because of drought conditions. 

  • While it remains a challenge to get a clear picture of the scale of damage in maize fields in Mozambique and Zimbabwe after Cyclone Idai, we suspect that these countries will collectively have to import over a million tonnes of maize in the 2019/20 marketing year in order to fulfil the domestic needs.

  • Zimbabwe’s Finance and Agriculture Department have confirmed that they have begun the process to compensate the white farmers who were dispossessed of their properties, following the brutal implementation of land reform policies 19 years ago.

  • The South African and Zimbabwean citrus season is about to start. “Most growers wanted to start this week or last weekend, but the harvest has been delayed somewhat because of rain. However, if the weather stays dry, harvest and packing will start this week, and the first boat loaded with a fair volume will depart next week,” says commercial manager Tjeerd Hoekstra of Total Produce in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

    Harvest in line with 2017
    “South Africa expects a good harvest for both Valencia oranges and grapefruit. Compared to last year, the harvest will be lower, but last year’s harvest was exceptionally large. This year, the harvest is expected to be in line with 2017, or maybe even a bit higher,” Tjeerd explains. “Last year was strange, with a lot of kilos and small sizes, particularly in grapefruit. This year, people expect volume will mostly consist of sizes 40-45.”

    “An exception to the good harvest are the Navels in the Sunday River Valley in the Eastern Cape. This production can’t be made profitable, and the area is decreasing. The volume of category 2 of these trees is considerably high. That’s why a lot of these Navel trees are being grubbed up and replaced with different varieties,” the importer continues. “In South Africa, a lot of lemon and Valencia varieties are still being planted. The boom in the planting of Nadorcott tangerines is now passed its peak.”

    Empty grapefruit market
    Regarding sales, Tjeerd predicts a fair start to the season. “Grapefruit will be arriving on a relatively empty market in any case. The Turkish season is now ending, and the volume on the market mostly consists of very large fruit. The Moroccan supply is also limited, so the first grapefruit will be arriving on a good market. I do hope we’ll start with realistic price levels, and not like last year, when we started with levels that were too high, it would lock up the entire market. If we start with more realistic prices, we’ll have a better circulation, and stocks won’t become too high.”

    “It’s too early to make predictions about the orange sales. However, you can see that Egypt’s position on the market is getting larger and larger. That could be worrying for South Africa considering the expected expansion, particularly if they manage to extend shelf life. The Egyptian oranges are currently being sold on the market at incredibly low prices,” Tjeerd says. “The false codling moth (FCM) and citrus black spot (CBS) will remain a point of attention, particularly after the rain in the north of recent weeks. Fortunately, South Africa did very well regarding CBS, with just a few interceptions.”

    Fixed prices elsewhere
    Besides, the European market is no longer the first priority of South African exporters. “Everyone is working hard on gaining access to other markets, where prices are supposedly fixed. Because of this, the volume for Europe decreased in recent years. Unfortunately, at the same time it can be noticed that they need Europe to lose volume of the final Valencia, for example, when other markets are full. Export volumes then increase, but that doesn’t necessarily mean quality increases as well. All in all, it could be said that doing business with South Africa is changing for importers,” Tjeerd concludes.

  • Zimbabwean government will give priority to elderly white farmers when it starts with the compensation process. The government has set aside US$17.5 million in this year’s budget to make initial compensation.

  • When Emmerson Mnangagwa assumed office as president of Zimbabwe in late 2017, one of the immediate tasks he had was to rebuild an economy that had performed poorly for nearly two decades.

  • The study, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and with contributions from scientists in countries across the southern Africa region, uses available data and a variety of models to examine likely agricultural developments, particularly related to crops, in the period to 2050.

  • Over half of Africa’s farmers are women. They could be our next generation of entrepreneurs, driving the agricultural revolution our continent needs to feed its growing population and boost its economies.

  • Our life is hell! This farm has been in our family for generations. My forefathers struggled from the boat to the South African coastline. I am an old man but what about my two sons? One son says he doesn’t know if he can raise his children on this farm.”

  • Zimbabwe’s famed beef industry, which collapsed in the 2000s following outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, is now rebounding.

  • When it comes to agriculture and farming in Africa, women have played a large role in shaping the future. As the continent moves forward, many believe that women are the key to transforming agriculture. 

  • Ninety-three white farmers whose land was expropriated in Zimbabwe during former president Robert Mugabe’s rule have received US$64.4 million (€57.7 million) in state compensation since 2009, the country’s finance minister has told state-run media.

  • Zimbabwe ‘s Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister, Vangelis Haritatos is confident the country is still in a safer position in terms of food security, despite the El Nino induced drought that affected almost nine countries across the SADC region, including Zimbabwe.

  • A sudden drop in the price of tobacco could not have come at a worse time for Zimbabwe. Halfway through the selling season, the price is about 37% lower than last year — at a time when, on its current trajectory, inflation could hit 100% by year-end.

  • Zimbabwe’s 2019 maize crop is set to come in at half that of 2018 and Mozambique’s at a quarter. To make it worse, SA will probably not have much excess — and the result is fast-rising maize prices.

  • A British safari boss is charging callous trophy hunters thousands of pounds to kill lions that have been bred in captivity, The Mail can reveal.