Maize output drops

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The country is expected to harvest lower than anticipated maize due to the effects of drought that hit the country between December last year and February this year.

In his state of the economy and attendant challenges address on Tuesday in Harare, Finance minister, Tendai Biti said cotton output would also decline.

“Taking into account the above development, the second crop and livestock assessment survey carried out in April is indicating a marginal reduction in maize output from the original projection from 1,5 million tonnes to 1,45 million tonnes.”

Zimbabwe requires 2,2 million tonnes of maize every year.

He said projections for the cotton output had also been revised downwards to 220 000 tonnes from the initial projection of 300 000 tonnes.

“I would want to say our yield per hectare for maize is a disaster. We are having an average of 0,69 tonnes per hectare when the international average is 7 tonnes,” said Biti.

Manicaland had 290 000 hectares under maize but they produced much lower than provinces such as Mashonaland West that planted less hectares.

According to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) the country would require $270 million to import an additional one million tonnes of maize to supplement local harvest.

CFU estimates that only 800 000 tonnes of maize would be harvested down from its projections of 1,2 million tonnes.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made last week told our sister publication, Zimbabwe Independent that figures of how much maize was expected this year were not readily available from the Government.

“There have been projections of maize production in the country, mostly by organisations that are not based in Zimbabwe. Most of them do not portray the correct situation on the ground. They will be wrong,” he said.

Biti however said the agriculture sector was still forecast to grow by 19,3% due to improved tobacco output from the initial 150 million kilogrammes to an estimated 200 million kilogrammes.