Zimbabwe is to export 10,000 tonnes of maize to Rwanda and is in talks to export part of its wheat stocks to neighbours, Cabinet says.
The government says the Grain Marketing Board is currently holding 204 084 metric tonnes of maize. The maize will be distributed among local millers and the export market, Cabinet said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Millers and stock-feed manufacturers are being allocated 27 000 mt, SILO Foods 16 000 mt per month, and an additional 10 000 mt will be sold to Rwanda. The available grain will last 5.6 months. This shows that Zimbabwe has sufficient grain to carry it through to the next season,” Cabinet said.
Wheat stocks stand at 140 029 tonnes, enough for eight months. Farmers have put 86 466 hectares under wheat, 14% more than last year. This is the most hectarage that the country has ever put to the crop, and may lead to a bigger harvest than last year’s record wheat crop.
“Considering that the country is wheat self-sufficient, discussions are underway with neighbouring countries on possible wheat exports,” Cabinet says.
Grain millers, however, point out that Zimbabwe still needs to import some wheat, as they need the grain from other countries to blend with local wheat to make shelf-quality bread. Zimbabwe may also need a longer run of surpluses before it can become self-sufficient, cautions Tafadzwa Musarara of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe.
“Only when you have a surplus for ten years are you truly self-sufficient. Only then will there be enough reserves to deal with unexpected events such as a war in Ukraine or a pandemic, for example,” Musarara says.
According to Cabinet, 70% of the country’s wheat is grown by small-scale resettled farmers. About 76% of the 2023 wheat hectarage is funded by the private sector, according to Graeme Murdoch, chairman of the Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA), made up of commodity traders and millers.
While Zimbabwe plans to export grain, some countries in the region are restricting exports due to fears over shortages. Tanzania, the largest maize producer in East Africa, began restricting maize exports to its neighbours in April. Zambia also recently halted exports to the DRC, a major destination for its maize.
In April, Rwanda put price controls on maize meal, fining businesses who increased prices.