Zim bans maize exports, regulates local sales amid crippling drought

Zimbabwe has banned the buying and selling of corn between private individuals and companies, and will only allow state owned Grain Marketing Board to be the sole buyer of corn, the country’s staple food. 

“No person or statutory body or company or entity shall buy or otherwise acquire any maize from any farmer or producer otherwise than through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB),” the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri said on Friday. 

Breaking the regulation could result in a fine or imprisonment of up to two years.

The move comes as Zimbabwe said it is expecting to record a significant reduction in corn production following the 2018/19 season that was characterised by the late onset of rains across the country. According to a second crop and livestock assessment report released by the Ministry of Agriculture, the estimated maize production stands at 776 635 tonnes, which is 54% less than the 1 700 702 tonnes obtained during the 2017/18 season.

The new Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019 (SI 145) controls sale or delivery of maize and also deals with acquisition and disposal of maize, provisions relating to contracted maize.

To deal with speculators and those seeking arbitrage opportunities, SI 145 forbids persons who are not producers of maize or who are not contractors to “sell maize to the Grain Marketing Board”.

“The Grain Marketing Board is hereby empowered to reject any maize delivered by a person other than a producer or a contractor.” SI 145 also limits the amount of maize that one is allowed to transport unless the intention is to sell to the GMB. 

“A producer of maize or farmer is permitted to transport not more than five bags of maize of a capacity not exceeding 50kgs per bag from one area of the country to the other without any authorised person or police officer having to confiscate the maize," it reads.

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