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Zimbabwe Faces Significant Corn Shortage Amid Worst Drought in Four Decades


The output of corn in Zimbabwe is expected to drop by nearly three-quarters this year due to the nation experiencing its worst drought in forty years, according to the government. The 2023-24 season, ending on May 31, is projected to yield only 634,699 tons of corn, a 72% decrease from last year, as per the final crop assessment report seen by Bloomberg and confirmed by the Agriculture Ministry. This is lower than the previous forecast of 868,237 tons.

“Statistically, the season had the latest and driest start to a summer season in 40 years,” stated the government in its Second Round of Crops, Livestock and Fisheries Assessment report.

The El Niño weather phenomenon has caused a severe dry spell in southern Africa, significantly reducing South Africa’s corn crop by at least 20% and prompting countries like Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to declare states of national disaster due to crop failures. In response to the shortfall, Zimbabwean grain millers plan to import at least 1.4 million tons of corn by July.

Farmers in Zimbabwe planted 1.78 million hectares of corn this season, which is 7% less than the target area and 12% lower than last year’s sown area. The decline is attributed to “agroecological tailoring and a shift to traditional grains in drier regions,” according to the report.

Zimbabwe’s annual corn consumption stands at 2.2 million tons, with 1.8 million tons allocated for food and 400,000 tons for livestock feed.

The report also cautioned about the ongoing disruption of global supply chains for food, fuel, and fertilizer, as well as geopolitical developments, especially in major input and crop supply regions. These factors “heighten the need and urgency for Zimbabwe to attain seed, food, feed, fibre, bio-oils, and biofuels sovereignty.”

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