HomeBusinessZim splashes $107m on maize imports

Zim splashes $107m on maize imports

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ZIMBABWE splashed $107 million on maize imports in the first eight months of the year at a time the country is boasting of a bumper harvest, latest trade data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) has shown.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

This came as government indicated it had stopped issuing grain import permits in February and that no maize imports were allowed at the borders following a bumper harvest realised this year.

However, data released by ZimStat showed that the country imported maize worth $107 million in the first eight months to August this year.

The imports came despite government praising command agriculture, which was seen as an import substitution exercise.

Command agriculture was unveiled last year to ensure food security and to reduce dependency on imports. It had a budget of $500 million under which it aimed to produce 2 million tonnes of maize from 400 000 hectares of land.

Contacted for comment, Agriculture deputy minister (cropping), Davis Marapira, said if those figures were not from his ministry, he would not take them seriously.

“Zimbabwe stopped importation of maize in February 2017. Any delivery or deliveries that came after three or so months later were already paid for. We can’t import maize because all Grain Marketing Board depots are full now,” Marapira said.

“There is no reason for the country to continue importing maize. If those figures are not from my ministry, we don’t take them seriously.”

Zimstat is the national statistics agency and a source of reliable data.

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.

During the period under review, the country also imported durum wheat and rice worth $63 million and $62 million, respectively.

Most of the imports in the period under review were consumptive products such as bottled water, soap, mobile phone handsets, electronics, vehicle spares, vehicles, generators and second-hand vehicles.

In total, Zimbabwe’s trade deficit narrowed by 27% to $1,4bn after imports amounted to $3,6bn, while exports trailed at $2,2bn.

During the same period last year, the country’s imports were $3,3bn against exports of $1,5bn, giving trade deficit of $1,8bn.

For 2017, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has forecast a $1,5bn trade deficit.

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