Zimbabwe’s 2024 maize harvest expected to shrink by 50%

Zimbabwe’s staple maize harvest is expected to halve to 1,1 million tons in 2024 due to an El Niño-induced drought, Reuters recently reported.

Zimbabwe’s 2024 maize harvest expected to shrink by 50%
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The country needs about 1,8 million tons of maize annually for human consumption.

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said on Wednesday that a huge grain deficit threatened food security in poor households. He said in the Reuters report that the country’s agriculture sector would shrink by 4,9% in 2024 due to the drought.

The United States Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network meanwhile cautioned governments, donors and humanitarian bodies to prepare for high food assistance needs in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar throughout 2024 to early 2025 because of El Niño weather patterns.

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Farmers in Zimbabwe delayed planting maize amidst high temperatures and dry conditions linked to El Niño.

Only 95 156ha of land had been planted to summer crops, mainly grains, by 10 December 2023, a sharp decline from 465 707ha by the same time in 2022.

The World Bank announced earlier in December 2023 that the growth in the Zimbabwean economy was projected to slow to 3,5% in 2024 as agricultural output is expected to suffer from depressed global demand, especially from China, and predicted erratic and below-average rainfall caused by the El Niño weather pattern.

According to the bank, the weaker global demand for minerals would reduce the contribution of the mining sector to economic growth. The bank said in a statement the continued implementation of economic reforms would serve to cool down inflation and relieve exchange rate pressures.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.