Agrobusiness - Featured - Local - Top Stories - May 18, 2021

Suspension of maize imports to boost forex reserves

Government has suspended maize imports following the bumper harvest achieved this year, the move is set to save US$300 million.

Zimbabwe has been importing an average of 100 000 tonnes of maize per month within and beyond the region due to continuous droughts experienced in recent years.

1,8 million tonnes of maize are required annually and last year, because of poor rains received in the 2019 summer cropping season, only produced 907 628 tonnes.

According to the Second Round of Crop and Livestock Assessment Report for 2021 released recently, estimated maize production stands at 2 717 171 tonnes, which is 199 percent of last years output.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor John Mangudya confirmed the suspension of grain imports saying the bumper harvest means the country will now save foreign currency and channel these resources to the productive sectors.

We are now able to save US$30 million from the 100 000 tonnes of maize that we have been importing monthly.

Therefore, what this means is that we now have to produce more as our productive sectors of the economy such as the manufacturing and agriculture will receive more foreign currency allocation through the auction system,” Mangudya said.

The monetary authorities introduced the weekly Foreign Currency Auction Trading System last year in June, which has been highly successful in terms of its objectives to improve forex allocation to the productive sectors as well as stabilising the exchange rate.

The Treasury has set aside $60 billion to enable the GMB to procure maize from farmers this marketing season and an initial $5 billion that is required in the first week of the season has been disbursed.

This $60 billion required to pay the farmers is not going to be paid at once but over four to five months period of the entire selling season.

We sell the maize to the millers, and the millers also pay the money to the Government or GMB and, therefore, money circulates, said Mangudya.

During a Press conference in Bulawayo, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara, said millers have mobilised funds under a pre-payment arrangement with the Government to support maize procurement by the GMB from farmers this selling season.

The resource from GMAZ under a pre-payment initiative is part of the $60 billion Government has earmarked for grain procurement by the marketing board.

He said they have been informed that maize import permits have already stopped and all permits subsisting were expiring automatically on May 31 and From June going forward, the country would have more local maize inflows at GMB as moisture content starts to reduce to less than 13 percent and also mobile depots would have been put in place

So, first of June there wont be maize or maize meal imports into the country. They have been given a grace period just in case others would have paid and goods are in transit but the Government has already stopped issuing new permits.

On the price of a mealie-meal l think in June or July the retail price of a mealie-meal will start going down. Its just a normal standard economic practice that when supply is high, prices come down, some households especially in the urban areas have got maize so the demand for mealie-meal is going to be depressed, he said.

Over 60 000 tonnes of maize have been delivered to GMB since the start of the 2021 marketing season in April.

The selling season has opened with nearly 1 400 buying points established countrywide, and authorities are working on setting up an additional 400 selling points as the season progresses.

 

 

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