ZIMBABWE – Anxious Masuka, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development in Zimbabwe recently revealed that the executive has received import requests for a total stock of 350,000 tonnes of maize from Rwanda and the DRC.
Maize is the leading cereal produced and consumed in various forms in sub-Saharan Africa and demand for the cereal has been on the rise and is expected to continue with the upward trend.
As the production of the cereal is increasing in various African countries like Zimbabwe, intra-African trade in the commodity is also booming, encouraging African nations to source the grain from each other.
According to Masuka, the export process has already started for Rwanda, and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is mandated to oversee it.
In detail, a shipment of 40,000 tons of corn will be shipped to the land of a thousand hills in the next 4 months at the rate of 10,000 tons per month.
However, regarding the DRC, the request is still being processed according to the details relayed by the Zimbabwean local newspaper The Herald.
“We are carefully considering the options available to us in order to keep enough grain for our use,” says Masuka.
This caution by the official is explained by the fact that the GMB currently only holds a stock of 204,084 tons of maize to cover the demand on the local and foreign market until the next harvest according to official data.
It is important to remember that Zimbabwe is not self-sufficient in maize despite the hope for corn production to rise significantly in the next harvest.
While, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) June report, Zimbabwe’s corn crop for the marketing year 2023/24 could reach 1.5 million metric tons, an increase of 5% from the previous marketing year’s crop, the country still depends up to 25% on imports for its consumption needs of the cereal which is around 2 million tons per year.
Therefore, to sustain local demand for maize, Zimbabwe will have to import approximately 450,000 MT of corn in MY2023/24.
Thus, the decision to export its current stocks to neighboring countries is something that Zimbabwe will have to consider carefully before committing to do so.