THE Zimbabwe government approved the sale after a surplus from past harvests, Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said. Zimbabwe had its largest corn crop in more than three decades of 2.8 million tons in 2020-21, while last year’s output was 2.2 million tons.

“We have also received a request from the Democratic Republic of Congo for export of maize and cumulatively we have received requests for 350 000 metric tons,” he said in a Twitter post shared by Information Secretary Nick Mangwana. “We are considering our options closely so that we can retain sufficient grain for our own use.”

The state-owned Grain Marketing Board will oversee the exports. The country has adequate stock for the next two seasons, according to an emailed statement from the cabinet.

Zimbabwe has endured intermittent food shortages since the government began violent land seizures in 2000. The eviction of about 4 500 former White farmers led to a plunge in agricultural production, forcing the southern African nation to depend on corn imports mostly from neighbouring South Africa.

Zimbabwe last exported corn more than two decades ago, sending 100 000 tons to several African countries including Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia and Kenya, according to Wandile Sihlobo, the chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa.

“The statement by cabinet is surprising,” Sihlobo said by phone. “We thought Zimbabwe will be a net importer this year as we expect the harvests to decline to 1.4 million metric tons of maize because of the unfavorable weather conditions at the start of the season.”

Rwanda’s corn consumption is at 500 000 tons of corn annually, with imports at almost 120 000 tons, according to Sihlobo. — Bloomberg

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