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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

7 June 2006

Zimbabwe Maize Production Update

In Zimbabwe, harvesting of maize and other main season crops is almost completed. Rainfall this season had been normal to above normal from the start in November 2005 throughout the country. Rains ended in late March potentially affecting adversely the late planted crops (See estimated rainfall for different provinces in Figure 1, panels 1 to 10). Problems of seed availability were reported at the beginning of the season but by December, with combined efforts of the Government, NGOs and FAO, sufficient amount of cereal seed was made available. However, with very little domestic production of fertilizer and lack of significant imports due to scarce foreign currency, this key input had been in short supply in the country. Overall maize and cereal production prospects look favourable compared to last year’s drought-affected output of about 550 000 tonnes for maize. However, it is unlikely to reach the official government forecast estimate of 1.8 million tonnes announced earlier last month.

FAO’s current forecast for 2006 points to maize production within the range of 1 to 1.2 million tonnes. In comparison, in February 2006, USDA, based on the mid-term field visits and analysis of satellite images, estimated the maize harvest at 900 000 tonnes. Furthermore, in May, the European Space Agency’s, Global Monitoring for Food Security (GMFS) Project, based on partial satellite imagery processing , estimated the area under maize cultivation at 1.31 million hectares, and total maize production at 1.16 million tonnes (see details).

In addition to maize, crops such as millet and sorghum, on which fertilizer is normally not applied in Zimbabwe, have reportedly done very well this year. Thus for the total Zimbabwean population of 11.75 million, the preliminary estimate of maize import requirement for 2006/07 marketing year (April/March) is put at about 300 000 tonnes, about one-fourth of the level of the previous year. Commercial import capacity is limited by the continuing downward trends in export earnings from main crops such as tobacco and cotton, although this is offset by rising metal export prices as well as official and unofficial remittances from the large number of Zimbabweans living outside the country estimated at over 3 million.

Additional information on the food production, food security situation and other vulnerability aspects should soon be available from the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Analysis Committee (VAC), which is conducting its main annual assessment.

Figure 1: Panels 1 to 10: Interpolated Estimated Rainfall (IER), Zimbabwe, September 2005 dekad 1 to May 2006 dekad 2. (Analysis by GIEWS based on images distributed by FAO/ARTEMIS and based on the Decadal Rainfall Estimates generated by the Climate Prediction Centre (CPC) of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)).