Zimbabwe bans maize imports as it prepares for bumper harvest

Saturday May 22 2021

Zimbabwe expects to harvest 2.7 million tonnes of maize, which is three times last year’s output and the highest yield in 20 years. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Zimbabwe has suspended maize imports, citing a big harvest of the staple crop this year after years of food shortages.

The southern African country last year spent $300 million on maize imports and donors were feeding more than half of the population due to successive droughts.

According to the government’s latest crop and livestock assessment report, the country will harvest 2.7 million tonnes of maize during the 2020/21 summer cropping season, which is three times last year’s output and is more than the country’s annual consumption, and the highest yield in 20 years.

Zimbabwe’s maize harvest will be nearly 200 percent higher than last year and 130 percent above average.

It would be the first time the country will have a maize surplus after almost two decades of food shortages following a chaotic land reform programme at the turn of the millennium.

The good cropping season is attributed to higher than normal rainfall during the just ended 2020/21 rain season.


“The Agricultural Marketing Authority will no longer be issuing out import permits for maize and maize meal,” said Clever Isaya, the authority’s chief executive officer.

The state agency has a monopoly on buying and selling maize from farmers.

After consecutive droughts, Zimbabwe received above normal rainfall during the just ended farming season, which led to bumper harvests across the country.

The United States sponsored Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet) said the “above-average harvest is driving increases in agricultural labour opportunities, especially in typical surplus producing areas.”

FewsNet, 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.