ZIMBABWE imported grain worth $201,4 million in the first half of the year, an indication the nation was still a net importer of agricultural products despite the land redistribution programme, latest trade data from Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) has shown.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Data gathered from Zimstat revealed that Zimbabwe was still a net importer of grain, with maize imports leading with $91 million.
This also comes at a time when the country was boasting of a bumper harvest.
In the period under review, the southern African nation imported durum wheat worth $52 million, rice $44 million, soya bean ($13m) and sorghum worth $1,4 million.
All these grains could be produced locally if the land is effectively utilised.
Currently, the country is projected to harvest more than 2 million metric tonnes of grain, including small grains such as sorghum and millet, following good rains received this year.
On average, Zimbabwe needs about 1,8 million metric tonnes for consumption, including small grains such as millet and sorghum annually.
To ensure food security and to reduce dependency on imports, government this season unveiled a $500 million command agricultural programme under which it aims to produce 2 million tonnes of maize from 400 000 hectares of land.Overall imports in the first six months to June amounted to $2,6 billion against $1,3 billion exports, giving a trade deficit of $1,3 billion.
In the same period last year, the country’s imports were $2,5 billion against exports of $1,1 billion.
Most of the imports in the first half of 2017 were consumptive products such as rice, bottled water, sugar, soap, mobile phone handsets, electronics, vehicle spares, vehicles, generators and second-hand vehicles.