ZIMBABWE imported maize worth $112 million in the first nine months of the year, latest trade data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) has shown.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In February this year government indicated it had stopped issuing grain import permits and that no maize imports were allowed at the borders, following a bumper harvest realised this year.
But data released by ZimStat showed that the country imported maize worth $112 million in the first nine months to September this year.
In the month of September, maize imports amounted to $4,8 million from $5,4 million recorded in the previous month.
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 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.
This also raises fears that some unscrupulous individuals were importing maize and reselling it at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) making huge profits.
Beside maize imports, the country splashed $70 million on rice and $67 million on durum wheat.
Total imports in the period under review amounted to $4 billion.
Last month, Agriculture deputy minister (cropping), Davis Marapira, denied that the country was still importing maize. He was singing the same hymn yesterday.
“I think I have explained myself clearly. Do you want me to explain it again? Do you think in this environment where there is excess we can import maize? There is nothing like that. That is the maize which the GMB is still collecting. It was paid for,” Marapira said.
The country is projected to harvest more than two million metric tonnes of grain, including small grains such as sorghum and millet, following good rains received this year.