Zim Must Import Maize With Urgency To Avert Hunger: CFU

CFU said it’s now several years since Zimbabwe has not produced enough maize to feed its people but also had surpluses to export. The group said output in 2012 is less than half of domestic consumption, and substantial imports will be necessary to meet the production deficit.

These imports will have to be undertaken when the world grain markets are undersupplied, CFU said. The main commodities affected are maize, wheat, and soya beans. Droughts have struck food producing regions in all the continents.

“Zimbabwe needs to act expeditiously to secure maize supplies from both regional and world markets,” Charles Taffs, CFU president said.

“In the United States maize crops continue to wilt in the corn belt of the mid-West because of dry conditions and unusually high temperatures and this position is forecast to extend into the autumn. As a result U.S. maize exports for the 2012/13 marketing season are projected to fall by more than 8 million tonnes.”

The group said Zimbabwe cannot secure all of maize imports within southern Africa and will be forced to compete for scarce and expensive maize elsewhere.

“GMO maize is produced in South Africa so that market cannot be tapped as GMO maize is prohibited for human consumption in Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe will be in competition with other importing countries in the region,” Taffs said.

“Looking into the future, prospects for Zimbabwe’s maize production in the coming season and beyond are not good. This situation stems from funding difficulties arising from illiquid money markets and looming input supply problems.”

CFU said seed maize production has been low with the country producing 27,170 tonnes, which is below the national requirement of around 36,000 tonnes.

The local fertilizer industry is also in a precarious position. Production capacity of the industry will not be able to meet the combined national requirements for growing maize of 370,000 tonnes for both Compound “D” and Ammonium Nitrate by December. Thus there will be a need to import substantial quantities of fertilizers to make up shortfalls. Farmers will have to bear the higher costs of imported fertilizers.

“Unless the Zimbabwe Government immediately puts in place policies that boost maize production the country may well face starvation. The Commercial Farmers’ Union stands ready to assist in formulating such policies and contributing to food production,” Taffs said.

Since President Robert Mugabe’s disastrous land reform programmes beginning in the year 2000, Zimbabwe has been failing to meet its annual demand of staple maize production of at least 2 million metric tonnes.

Mugabe and his Zanu PF kicked out mostly white farmers, the majority who were CFU members off the land to correct what he called historical land imbalances. This year the country said it will suffer a one million metric tonnes maize deficit.