Grain imports chew US$3bn – Banker

via Grain imports chew US$3bn – Banker | The Herald August 30, 2014

Zimbabwe has spent over US$3 billion in direct imports of maize and wheat since dollarisation was introduced in 2009, a top banker has revealed.
The country has been importing food due to shortfalls in domestic production blamed on droughts.Speaking at a national dialogue on agro-business, food and nutrition, Bankers Association of Zimbabwe president, Mr Sam Malaba, said direct food imports averaged US$550 million a year. “Direct food imports in terms of maize and wheat average US$550 million per year implying a cumulative total amount of US$3,3 billion since 2009.

“This has contributed to the widening current account deficit which has worsened from US$3,6 billion in 2012 to just over US$4 billion in 2013,” he said.

Mr Malaba said over 70 percent of the population derived their livelihood from agriculture.

“Therefore measures to address poverty alleviation must in some way target the agricultural sector. Zimbabwe is an agriculture-based economy and hence support to the sector is critical for the overall performance of the economy,” he said.

Farmers have been complaining that food imports were destroying agricultural production.

They argued that instead of importing food, the money could be used to fund local farmers to produce food. Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president, Mrs Depinah Nkomo said US$550 million was a lot of money which was supporting farmers in other countries.

“Farmers are failing to meet the national food requirement due to lack of funding. Small-holder farmers, who are the chief food producers, do not require a lot of money so there can be difference if local farmers are supported,” she said.

Mrs Nkomo said if the money could be given to the Grain Marketing Board to pay farmers there could be an increase in maize and wheat production.

“Most farmers are diversifying to tobacco not because they like growing it, but they are being attracted by the instant cash. The same could be done to maize and wheat and we will not have to import,” she said.

Agriculture economist Mr Midway Bhunu said the money should have been channelled towards subsidising inputs.

“The challenge we are having is that our inputs, especially fertilisers, are expensive. This makes the cost of production high. Many farmers are failing to increase production because they cannot afford adequate fertilisers,” he said.

Mr Bhunu said if inputs were subsidised at manufacturers level, farmers could easily access them and increase production.

“Our maize and wheat could become competitive even on the regional market because we would have reduced production costs. Our economy is already bleeding and we should reduce the money going out to support other economies,” he said.

Farmers produced about 1,4 million tonnes of maize this season and this has been attributed to the Presidential Well Wishers Input Scheme which saw 1,6 million households getting seed, fertilisers and lime.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 8
  • comment-avatar
    avenger/revenger 8 years ago

    Why oh why ? Why ? Rhodesia used to export 1 billion every year !!!!!! Earning for ex and no one ever starved. Ask your gogos sekurus. In mugabeland people die cos no food !!!!! Pamberi to zanupf mob justice

    • comment-avatar
      Umwrong 8 years ago

      If we’re speaking literally, even tobacco isn’t doing as well. In 2000, Zimbabwe produced 296 million metric tonnes. Last year, the yield was 195 million. Even the “successes” of land reform aren’t on par with the previous dispensation.

      Let’s face it: Rhodesia — minus the racism — was a great model.

  • comment-avatar

    subsistance farmers cannot become commercial farmers overnight – they never taught this at the Univ of Zimbabwe business school of course !

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Subsistence farmers are not actually farmers at all, but doing some kind of backward thing that has no place in the modern world. They are too useless to even feed themselves, never mind grow a surplus to feed those living in the cities.

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    saddened 8 years ago

    So much for the “land reform” when land was given to many who don’t have a clue while others are slightly better. No plan just revenge driven. Still can’t match what 4000 competent farmers did, what a shame!

  • comment-avatar
    The Mind Boggles 8 years ago

    I’m not hungry so I don’t really care

  • comment-avatar
    Tongoona 8 years ago

    This speaks volumes of how chaotic and destructive Land Resettlement program has been and continues to be. It is like quicksand whose depth is unknown until it claims a victim or victims. So far over 2 million people require food aid simply because Zpf farmers occupying virtually all former commercial farms are not farmers but home seekers. To prove that they are home seekers, the are now seeking to hold onto the farms by leasing out the ill gotten farms back to the former white farmers. My advice is, remove the Zpf debris which unfortunately includes the Zpf elite and save US$550 million per year in food imports.

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    Mena Bona 8 years ago

    Zimbabwe is buying maize grown by farmers that had their farms stolen and are now farming in countries that have welcomed them. Talk about getting rid of such valuable citizens simply because of the colour or their skins. The madness there is unlimited but nether SADAC nor the AU does a thing about it. Africa has gone mad.