Zimbabwe is expecting its biggest harvest of maize in 20 years, a sign that the country could end its cycle of food deficits due to successive droughts and a chaotic land reform programme.
Official data shows the country will harvest 2.7 million tonnes of the staple grain in the 2020/21 summer crop season, the highest yield in 20 years, nearly 200 percent higher than last year and 130 percent above average.
Zimbabwe expects to get a surplus of over 820,000 tonnes of cereals this year, the highest yield since the 2000/01 season when the later president, Robert Mugabe began the violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms.
His controversial land reforms led to the collapse of Zimbabwe’s agro-based economy and spawned large-scale food shortages with aid agencies to date still feeding more than half of the country’s population.
After consecutive droughts, the country received above normal rainfall during the just ended farming season, which led to bumper harvests across the country, “This is not withstanding the fact that the season terminated prematurely for almost all of the country’s districts and that some southern and central parts experienced well spells in December and January,” said Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet) said the “above-average harvest is driving increases in agricultural labour opportunities, especially in typical surplus producing areas.”
It however warned that Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis was not yet over due to the country’s ongoing economic problems that have dragged on for over two decades.
“The macroeconomy continues to be volatile, impacting poor household food and non-food access, especially among market reliant households,” FewsNet said in its latest Zimbabwe forecast.
“Despite some stability in the official (currency) market rates, parallel market exchange rates are over 30 percent higher.