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from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Johannesburg, SA
JOHANNESBURG – BASKING in the glory of its largest harvest of the staple maize in more than 36 years, Zimbabwe has the luxury of exporting the commodity for the first time in over 20 years.

This is a phenomenal transition from a basket case back to the breadbasket of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

This completes a full circle the agricultural industry has gone, from the highs of the 1980s, to the lows of recent years emanating from droughts and the land reform programmes.

In a recent report, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reaffirmed its view that Zimbabwe’s 2020/21 maize crop could amount to 2,7 million tonnes.

This is almost 200 percent from the 907,628 tonnes produced in the previous season.

“Notably, this is the largest harvest since 1984/85,” Wandile Sihlobo, the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) chief economist, stated.

“With Zimbabwe’s annual maize needs at roughly 2 million tonnes, there will be enough, and the country could even export if needs be, something that would be the first since 2001, when the country last exported maize.”

Sihlobo added, “Zimbabwe will be self-sufficient in maize this year, and that should be celebrated in a country that has plunged into starvation for so long.”

Last month, the Zimbabwean Agricultural Marketing Authority stopped issuing import permits for maize and maize meal to local grain millers.

Zimbabwe is poised to attain 2,7 million tonnes of maize harvest in a record area planting of 1,9 million hectares.

“The central message of it is that Zimbabwe will not be a basket case this year, thanks to an expansion in agricultural plantings and favourable rainfall,” Sihlobo said.

Agriculture accounts for 20 percent of the Southern African country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

– CAJ News