Zim says now importing maize from SA

ZIMBABWE has started importing maize from neighbouring South Africa after drought slashed domestic output of the staple grain, a senior official said on Wednesday.



“>”We have embarked on a massive importation programme. We have since contracted up to 1,8 million tonnes of maize and this should see us up to June next year,” said the acting chief executive of the state Grain Marketing Board, Samuel Muvuti.


“The maize has already started coming into the country. The grain is not coming from far, it is coming from … South Africa. We have opened all our routes to ensure that the grain comes into the country timeously,” Muvuti added in remarks broadcast on national television.


Good rains and new seed types have left Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour expecting its largest maize harvest in more than a decade – and desperate to shift several million tonnes of surplus grains in the hope of rallying prices.

South African traders said some maize has been transported by sea to the Mozambican port of Beira before being shipped overland to Zimbabwe.


Last month Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told parliament President Robert Mugabe’s government planned to import maize and wheat to meet national grain requirements and also welcomed assistance offered without conditions attached.


The government last year forecast a bumper harvest of 2,4 million tonnes of maize from the 2004/05 November to March cropping season, but aid agencies say the country is now likely to produce no more than 600 000 tonnes.


Mugabe denies that persistent food shortages since 2000 have resulted in large party from disruptions to agriculture connected to his government’s seizure of white-owned commercial farms for landless blacks.


The shortages have worsened an economic crisis also seen in an acute fuel crunch as well as record inflation and unemployment, which critics blame on government mismanagement.


Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, denies the charge, and defends his land reform programme as necessary to restore land Harare says was stolen from blacks when Britain colonised the country more than a century before. – Reuter.