Zimbabwe: El Nino-linked drought threatens maize production

A car drives on a road between withered stalks in a corn field and the Granville Cemetery, background, in Harare Tuesday April 5, 2005.
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Zimbabwe

Mazowe district of Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central province is struggling with prolonged severe drought, threatening the country’s maize supply, and impacting business of its grain millers.

Whenever farmer Terry Manyimo gazes upon his field, his heart is in his throat.

Zimbabwe’s northern Mazowe district is struggling with a prolonged severe drought.

“The way I am seeing our field right now, if we even get a bucket of maize it would be… I don’t know, we are not expecting anything from this field,” Manyimo says.

The poor rainfall in the district has wiped out a million hectares of maize.

Authorities seek to fill the production and demand gap with industry insider expecting increased import of maize to meet the country’s need.

Harare has been importing grain from South Africa with additional stocks expected to be shipped from Brazil.

“The drought itself in terms of our estimation will require us to import about 1.1 million tonnes of maize for both human and livestock consumption from between now and July 31 of 2025,” Tafadzwa Musarara, the chairman pf the Grain Millers Association said.

Over than 80% of Zimbabwe received below normal rainfall, prompting the president to declared a state of disaster in early April. Similar moves were taken by neighbouring Zambia and Malawi.

In this harsh environment, people have to pay more for less food.

Tafadzwa Musarara assures millers don’t make profits out of margins.

“Demand is huge, and therefore demand is huge, prices tend to go up. But in terms of our pricing model we will retain our usual margins that we have been keeping. We don’t make profit out of margins we make profit out of volumes.”

The director of the Zimbabwe Climate Change Management Department says the government takes into account the climate crisis, investing over a billion dollars every year.

“As a government, right now it’s mandatory for all ministries to ensure that they mainstream climate change in their budgeting and planning to offer 1.2 billion [U.S. dollars] every year,” Washington Zhakata said.

Drought linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon has scorched crops across Southern Africa has scorched, leaving millions of people in need of food assistance.

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