Zimbabwe secures 400 000 metric tons of maize as African countries look to stock up
- Malawi and Zambia export a combined 400 000 metric tons of maize to Zimbabwe.
- South Africa is the most maize secure country in the region with a stock-to-usage ratio of 24 percent.
- Ukraine is calling for a “safe passage” to allow grain exports to Africa and its international markets.
- The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has secured 400 000 metric tons of maize imports from Zambia and Malawi in what it calls “economic diplomacy” as several African countries start to shop around for grain.
The maize was scheduled to be delivered by 30 June to alleviate a food crisis in a country, that, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), had an estimated six million people in need of food aid.
“I am pleased to inform the nation that GMAZ has secured 400 000 tons of white maize from Malawi and Zambia,” said GMAZ chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara.
The maize was sourced from Zambia, Malawi’s state companies as well as private sellers.
“Forty percent of this maize will be coming from grain utility companies namely Food Reserve Agency of Zambia and Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) of Malawi,” he said.
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In February, the Zimbabwean government allowed private grain millers to import cereals in the face of growing starvation.
Musarara said food imports were important because they enhanced “national food security in light of the degeneration of geo-politics in the grain farming regions of Eastern Europe”.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) in its latest regional maize supply and market outlook update, said there would be increased demand in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar and Angola during the year.
These countries would rely on imports from countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.
“Supplies in South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi remained adequate and are expected to satisfy requirements of regional maize deficit countries,” the report stated.
But reports in East Africa indicated that Zambia, Tanzania, and Malawi would soon run out of its surplus, forcing Kenya to look for yellow maize in Mexico.
Of the grain secure countries, South Africa was the most comfortable.
“In South Africa, the projected ending stock level as of April 30, 2022, is estimated at 2.1 million tons, with a stock to usage ratio of 24 percent,” said FEWS NET.
However, since South Africa produced Genetically Modified (GMO) maize, it’s not a first choice exporter for some African countries such as Kenya and Zimbabwe that had outlawed GMO maize.
If a “safe passage” plea called for by Ukraine for cereal imports was not granted, the country’s inability to export its grain would further increase the prospect of famines, mostly in Africa.