ZIMBABWE* (17 November)

Relatively good early rains were received in September but widespread planting rains started only in mid-November which may prompt many farmers to start planting coarse grain crops to be harvested from April. As the country is considered to be one of those at risk of below-normal rainfall this season as a result of the El Niño phenomenon, farmers have been advised to plant early and use drought-resistant seeds.

1997 cereal production is estimated at 2.7 million tons, compared to 3.1 million tons in 1996. The maize crop amounts to 2.2 million tons, 16 percent lower than last year’s good harvest but slightly above average. The output of millet and sorghum is estimated at about 220 000 tons, about the same as the above- average crop in 1996.

The national food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory during the 1997/98 marketing year. Maize supply is expected to cover requirements, including the replenishment of stocks, and to leave an exportable surplus of some 400 000 tons.