Source: Zim spends fortune on maize imports | The Financial Gazette May 24, 2018
ZIMBABWE imported over 300 000 tonnes of maize worth $114 million between January and November 2017, the latest Livestock Update Report has shown.
This is despite government assertions that the country recorded a bumper harvest of 2,6 million tonnes in the 2016/2017 agricultural year.
The livestock industry was the major importer of the grain from South Africa, Zambia, Mauritius and Mexico.
“In the 11 months to November 2017, 307 758 tonnes of maize worth approximately $114 million was imported. This is 59 percent (quantity) and 57 percent (value) less than the corresponding period last year, respectively,” the April 2018 report done by the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) has said.
In 2016, the industry imported about 700 000 tonnes of grain.
“Imports declined as a result of increased local production during the 2016/2017 agricultural season. Monthly imports in 2017 were on a downward trend and the lowest maize import since 2015 of 3 066 tonnes was recorded in November,” the LMAC said.
Of the $114 million spent on maize imports, 51 percent and 29 percent was spent on maize from South Africa and Mexico, respectively.
Zambia offered the lowest average maize price of $272 per tonne while Mexico was the highest at $399 per tonne. Maize from South Africa was $379 per tonne.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, the spot price of white maize on the South African Futures Exchange oscillated between $125 and $160 per tonne. The strengthening of both the rand and US dollar accounted for the rise in price, with the February price at $170 per tonne.
The 2018 maize production outputs in Zimbabwe and the rest of the region are expected to decline.
According to the Southern African Development Community Food Security Update, the hot and dry conditions that prevailed in December 2017 affected food production in the region.
While Zimbabwe awaits the release of the National Crop Assessment Report, Zambia announced that output for the 2017/2018 season will be 2,4 million tonnes, down from 3,6 million tonnes last year.
Prolonged dry spells between November 2017 and January 2018, the maize stalk borer invasion and the fall armyworm outbreak is said to have resulted in the 33,6 percent drop in production.
South Africa, which is projected to produce some 13,4 million tonnes of maize and Zambia are expected to lead maize supplies in the region.
Currently, the Grain Marketing Board is selling stockfeed maize at $150 per tonne.