Zimbabwe says 'bye bye to maize imports' as farmers 'deliver over 1m tons' – report

2018-10-17 13:02
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Zimbabwe is reportedly now "food secure" and is likely not going to import maize as farmers have delivered over 1 million tons to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) after a "successful Command Agriculture Programme".

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, GMB officials said they expected at least 1.2 million tons of grain to be collected as farmers continued to bring in their produce to its depots.  

GMB general manager Rockie Mutenha said they had so far received 1.1 million tons of maize since the beginning of the marketing season in April and were expecting more maize to be delivered.

This came a few weeks after Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said that Zimbabwe had "immense potential to become Africa’s breadbasket".

Sunday News quoted Chiwenga as saying that if farmers embraced government policies, particularly the Command Agriculture”  and maximise on the use of local resources", Zimbabwe would regain its status as the continent’s breadbasket.

He challenged farmers to "produce for export and contribute towards the 2030 vision for an upper middle class economy".

Self-food sustenance

Chiwenga’s sentiments followed President Mnangagwa’s remarks in May where he expressed confidence that the country had ended hunger through the introduction of the Command Agriculture programme.

"As the country continued to face persistent years of drought, we sat as government and said we are a blessed country tucked between Zambezi and Limpopo river so why droughts? We then thought of command agriculture and... the country is doing well in food security," Mnangagwa was quoted as saying by the Herald.

The main aim for the Command Agriculture programme was to ensure self-food sustenance after which exports would follow to help the country earn the much needed foreign currency.

According to Africa Check, there was a commonly held view that Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa, although the specific timeframe in history was usually unclear.

This vague narrative, Africa Check said, gave an impression that Zimbabwe lost its "breadbasket" status during former President Robert Mugabe’s tenure.

"While Mugabe’s land reform programme seemingly contributed to a decline in Zimbabwe's agricultural output, there’s limited evidence to suggest that the country was a dominant player in Africa’s food production prior to that period – at least from a staple food production perspective," the report said.

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