ZIMBABWE – 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 according to the June report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
According to USDA, the estimated 1.5 MMT of corn production from the1.45 MMT produced in MY 2022/23 mirrors the average corn production of Zimbabwe over the past five years with an average yield of 0.84 metric tons (MT) per hectare (Ha) owing to normal rainfall in the northern regions of the country.
However, with an estimated annual corn requirement of 2.2 MMT, Zimbabwe will have to import approximately 450,000 MT of corn in MY2023/24 to meet local demand. This excludes the mandate to maintain a minimum strategic reserve of 500,000 MT of grain in physical stocks.
The USDA report highlighted that farmers’ ability to optimize corn production is still hampered by ongoing macroeconomic challenges, and relatively high input costs, especially fuel, and fertilizer.
Zimbabwe is a net importer of fertilizer and disruptions in the supply chain generated shortages in the market leading to significant price hikes
and consequently affecting production.
In addition, infrastructure constraints, including a lack of electricity and deteriorating roads coupled with a prohibition on the commercial planting of genetically engineered (GE) seeds negatively affected crops and harvesting operations.
According to the report, Fall Armyworm remained a major challenge during the season. The pest affected all the producing areas in Zimbabwe, and control was hampered by the high cost of chemicals as the cultivation of GE corn in Zimbabwe is still prohibited.
Corn is the main staple food crop with white corn used for human consumption and yellow corn used in animal feed.
In Zim, the GMB is mandated to maintain a minimum strategic reserve of 500,000 MT of grain in physical stocks.
However, low production has made it difficult for the GMB to maintain the strategic grain reserves at the prescribed level, hence Post estimates that Zimbabwe will have to import about 900,000 MT of corn to maintain the minimum strategic reserve in MY 2023/24 after local demand of 2.2 MMT is met.
On the other hand, corn for feed is expected to surge by 14 percent to 400,000 MT, driven mainly by growth in the poultry industry.
Zimbabwe will mostly depend on its southern African neighbor, South Africa, for corn imports following that South Africa produced its third largest corn crop on record in 2023 and has more than 3.0 MMT of corn available for export in MY 2023/24.