Zimbabwe’s maize output is projected to decline 43 percent in the 2021/2022 agricultural season due to poor distribution of rainfall, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Wednesday.
Presenting a post-cabinet media statement, Mutsvangwa said that tobacco, one of Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners, is expected to decline 8 percent to 183,725 metric tonnes from 200,245 tonnes in the previous season.
The forecast is made in accordance with the results of the second round crop and livestock assessment report that was presented to the Cabinet by Minister of Agriculture Anxious Masuka.
Mutsvangwa said maize is estimated at 1,557,914 metric tonnes, 43 percent lower than 2,717,171 metric tonnes produced in the 2020/2021 season.
Traditional grains output is projected at 194,100 tonnes, 44 percent less than the 347,968 tonnes in the previous season.
“The total cereal production projection is 1,752,014 metric tonnes, against a national cereal requirement of 2,267,599 metric tonnes,” Mutsvangwa said.
Of the 2,267,599 metric tonnes, 1,817,599 metric tonnes are for human consumption and 450,000 metric tonnes for livestock.
Cotton output, another major cash crop, is estimated at 116,521 metric tonnes in the 2021/2022 season, a 41 percent increase from the 195,991 metric tonnes in the 2020/2021 season.
Production of other crops such as soybean, rice, potato and sweet potato is expected to increase by big margins this year.
Mutsvangwa said the assessment further indicates an improvement in the livestock sector, attributed to the successful implementation of the Presidential Dipping program which is being complemented by the tick blitz exercise.
As a result, the national beef cattle herd increased from 5,478,648 in the previous season to 5,509,983 this season, and the national average cattle mortality rate decreased from 11 percent in 2020 to 9 percent in 2021, Mutsvangwa said.
Despite the decrease in maize production, Mutsvangwa assured the nation that the government has enough maize in stock.
“Cabinet takes this opportunity to reassure the nation that, despite the decline in production owing to the vagaries of the weather, there is, however, enough maize in stock.
“Also, the recent rains have resulted in better output in the late-planted crops. The results will only be apparent at a later date. The government will ensure that all Grain Marketing Board depots have enough maize and traditional grains to meet the demands of the nation, owing to a stable Strategic Grain Reserve position,” she said.
The millers and stockfeed manufacturers, on the other hand, are urged to use their free funds to import the bulk of the 300,000 metric tonnes grain in order to meet their requirements, she added.
Mutsvangwa also pointed out that geopolitical developments in eastern Europe, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, are weighing heavily on the logistical and financial aspects of commodity supply chains and this is affecting fuel, fertilizers and wheat supply systems, including the price determination mechanisms.