Zimbabwe will import 400,000 tonnes of white maize from Zambia and Malawi, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) said, as the country faces a reduced harvest this year blamed on erratic rains.
Zimbabwe has faced food insecurity since the turn of the century when it seized white-owned farms. The country has also endured frequent droughts over the years, with conditions expected to worsen as temperatures rise due to climate change.
The government has forecast maize production for the 2021/22 season at 1.56 million tonnes, down from the previous season’s multi-year record of 2.72 million tonnes.
Zimbabwe requires 2.2 million tonnes annually for human and livestock consumption and the government has encouraged private millers and producers of livestock feed to import some grain to plug the deficit.
“I am pleased to inform the nation that GMAZ has secured 400,000 metric tonnes of white maize from Malawi and Zambia,” GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said in a statement.
He said Zimbabwe expects to start receiving the maize from the end of June.
Zimbabwe’s millers have been increasing prices, citing higher import and production costs. The government responded by allowing citizens to import maize meal and other food items duty free.
In March, millers increased maize meal and wheat flour prices by 15 percent, followed by further hikes of 52 percent and 31 percent for maize meal and wheat flour, respectively, in April.
Food price inflation has worsened the challenges of a country battling to recover from an extended economic crisis, which was exacerbated by Covid-19 and the rapid devaluation of a local currency reintroduced in 2019.
Zimbabwe, which suffered 500 billion percent hyperinflation in December 2008 according to the International Monetary Fund, is experiencing another phase of rapid price increases, with year-on-year inflation rising to 131.7 percent in May, up from 60.6 percent in January.