Zimbabwe still expects to go hungry despite increase in expected maize production

Zimbabwe is expecting to record an estimated 17% increase in maize production for the 2019/20 agricultural season, but the output is still short of the country’s national requirements.

The southern African country’s estimated maize production is 907 628 tonnes, which is 17% more than the 776 635 tonnes produced during the 2018/2019 season, according to the second round of crop and livestock report released Friday.

The outturn is however, still half of the national maize requirements of 1.8 million tonnes.

The total cereal production in the country is 1 060 143 tonnes, against a national cereal requirement of 2 227 782 tonnes for human and livestock consumption.

There was no carry-over stock at the national grain reserve from the previous season, and a larger deficit compared to last year is expected.

Severely food insecure

There are more than 4.3 million people severely food insecure in rural areas in Zimbabwe, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, undertaken in February 2020.

In addition, 2.2 million people in urban areas are "cereal food insecure", according to the most recent Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) analysis.

The 2019/2020 season was characterised by late onset of rains across the country, with false starts to the rainy season in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country, the Ministry of Agriculture said in reference to the recently-ended season.

"Long dry spells in late December and January as well as the early cessation of the season negatively affected the planted crop," reads part of the report.

Zimbabwe is, however, expecting an improvement in traditional grains such as sorghum and millet, due to what the Agriculture Ministry called capacity building of farmers as well as input support schemes.

Traditional Grains production for the 2019/2020 season is estimated at 152 515 tonnes, which is 103% more compared to 75 209 tonnes in 2018/2019.

Other crops such as cotton are also expected to record increases, while tobacco is expected to record a drop in output.

Cotton production is estimated at 101 million kilograms, which is 52% more than 76 687 obtained in 2018/2019 season due to increased coverage of the input schemes.

Tobacco production is estimated at 224.158 million kilograms compared to 259. 53 million kilograms inthe  2018/2019 season, a 14% decrease. 

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