HARARE — Zimbabwe’s 2014 harvest for the staple maize rose 82% to 1,46 million tonnes, enough to meet annual domestic consumption for the first time since 2003, when foreign aid groups started providing food to the country, a government report showed yesterday.
The country has struggled to feed itself since a plunge in agriculture production which critics blame on President Robert Mugabe’s seizures of white-owned commercial farms in 2000 to resettle blacks.
Zimbabwe produced 798, 596 tonnes of maize during the 2012 to 2013 season, but better rains and grants of free government seed and fertiliser to rural farmers boosted output this year, according to the Agriculture ministry’s crop assessment report. The report put Zimbabwe’s annual consumption of cereals — maize, sorghum and millett — at 1,42 million tonnes.
Total cereal production for the November-April summer farming season was 1,7 million tonnes.
The harvest is good news to many rural Zimbabweans who in January were facing the prospect of hunger after the United Nations World Food Programme cut its assistance to one million people due to lack of funding.
The United States Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) said as a result of the above-average harvest, maize prices in areas monitored by the group had declined by up to 27% when compared with the same period last year.
“Most households in Zimbabwe, including the very poor, are experiencing minimal food insecurity.
“Most households are accessing cereals through (their) own production, as a result of this year’s above-average harvest,” Fewsnet said in its latest report.