Zimbabwe have imposed a ban on grain imports after the latest output forecast shows the country expects a bumper harvest of 2.1 million tons, four times more than the 2016 harvest.
According to Reuters, government announced the ban to “protect local farmers after producing enough to meet domestic demand”.
The country was only able to produce a meagre 511 000 tons in 2016 after the severe drought which left 39 million people in need of food aid in southern Africa.
“It is true that we banned all grain imports because we produced enough this year and because we need to protect our local farmers,” Davis Mharapira, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture told Reuters.
According to the Herald newspaper, the countries’ national grain agency has raised $200 million from the government and private sector to purchase grain maize from farmers.
Mharapira announced that farmers will be paid $390 per ton for white maize, almost three times the price of $143 for the September contract for white maize in South Africa.
He said the higher price is to encourage farmers to produce more maize while the import ban will make it impossible for dealers to buy the grain abroad and resell it at a higher price locally.
Wandile Sihlobo, South African agricultural economist at Agbiz, said if this harvest does materialise, Zimbabwe might need to import about 100 000 tons to fulfil its annual domestic needs.
Most maize producing countries in the region has announced forecasts of improved harvests compared to the past few years, mostly due to earlier drought conditions. South Africa expects a record best of 15.6 million tons, Zambia expects a harvest of 3.6 million tons and Malawi 3.2 million tons, all thanks to better climatic conditions and an increase in the area planted