Maize harvest forecast at 900 000t

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ZIMBABWE expects to harvest 900 000 tons of maize this year. This is an upward revision of the 800 000 tonnes initially forecast but is below the 1.8 million tonnes, the country's annual consumption.

Initially, Zimbabwe had projected to harvest around 800,000 tons of grain but improved patterns in the past two weeks have changed farmers' fortunes. More rain is now expected until Saturday, February 16.

In a warning statement this week, the Meteorological Department said that the country will accept heavy rains from Wednesday February 13 to Saturday February 16, 2016.

Wonder Chabikwa, Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union president, says the country's foreign exchange needs.

"Though we do not have the exact figures of the maize output this year, 900,000 tons will be attained as most crops in the country," Chabikwa said.

"The preparations were not very good as many years ago as in the last year of the year.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube says the country still has over 500,000 tonnes, which will give the country 1.4 million tonnes of grain.

If that comes true, the country will need to import around 400,000 tonnes to reach the 1.8 million-ton annual national grain demand.

One estimate says the country could save up to $ 260m in maize imports if the current rains persist until the end of February.

According to Sheunesu Mpepereki, the chair of the Soyabean Promotion Taskforce, soyabean production is expected to improve this year's rains compared to last year's dry patch in January.

"The increase in hectarage and crop quality will also be helped by the growth of the growing market," said Mpepereki.

Last year, soyabean farmers only managed a total output of 50,000 tonnes against a national demand of 300,000 tonnes. This year, estimates say between 80,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes could be achieved.

Meanwhile, tobacco output is expected to increase to around 260 million pounds from last year's record output of 252 million pounds.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board public relations manager Isheunesu Moyo said tobacco output is projected to surpass last year to increase hectare and quality of the crop across the country.

Already, 168,847 farmers have registered to grow tobacco, which is 49 percent jump.

Forex and cash inflows are expected to improve when this market is open.

– businesstimes

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