Highlights

Zimbabwe’s corn crop for the 2017/18 MY is estimated at around 2.2 million tons, up more than 300 percent from the 2016/17 MY’s corn crop of 512,000 tons. This major increase in corn production was mainly due to favorable weather conditions and a special program for import substitution, commonly termed as “Command Agriculture”, which was implemented by the Zimbabwean government. For the first time in over a decade, Zimbabwe will be self-sufficient in corn production and will not have to import any corn in the 2017/18 MY. Due to the “Command Agriculture” program, post estimates Zimbabwe’s winter wheat production in the 2017/18 MY at 105,000 tons, which is five times more than the wheat produced in the 2016/17 MY. However, Zimbabwe will still have to import about 200,000 tons of wheat in 2017/18 MY.

Executive Summary

The 2016/17 agriculture season has been one of the best experienced in Zimbabwe in the last decade in terms of annual rainfall. Well above normal rains were received throughout the country. In addition, the Zimbabwean government implemented a special program for import substitution, commonly termed as “Command Agriculture”. As a result, the area planted with corn increased 142 percent from the 775,000 hectares planted in 2016/17 MY to 1.9 million hectares in the 2017/18 MY. Due to the favorable weather conditions and the increase in area planted, Zimbabwe’s corn production in 2017/18 MY improved significantly to an estimated 2.2 million tons in the 2017/18 MY, up more than 300 percent from the 2016/17 MY’s corn crop of 512,000 tons and three times more than 742,000 tons produced in the 2015/16 MY. For the first time in more than 15 years, Zimbabwe will be self-sufficient in corn production and will not have to import any corn in the 2017/18 MY.

Due to the “Command Agriculture” program to help stimulate production, post estimates Zimbabwe’s winter wheat production at 105,000 tons on 35,000 hectares in the 2017/18 MY. This is five times more than the wheat produced in the 2016/17 MY and 2015/16 MY. However, Zimbabwe will still have to import about 200,000 tons of wheat in 2017/18 MY to augment domestic production.

Corn

Production

Zimbabwe experienced one of its wettest summer seasons in the last decade. Although the onset of the 2016/17 rainfall season (November to April) was variable across the country, the season’s total rainfall was above normal and well distributed and favorable for corn production in most areas. The central and eastern parts of the country received effective planting rains in the 3rd week of November 2016, while the bulk of the country received effective planting rains in the first and second week of December 2016. The period from January 2017 to March 2017 was characterized by incessant heavy rains with above normal rainfall recorded across the country. Cumulative rainfall in most parts of the country was between 50 percent and 100 percent above the average annual rainfall. The good rainfall contributed significantly to increasing the area planted with corn in the 2017/18 MY to an estimated 1.9 million hectares, an increase of 142 percent from the 775,000 hectares planted in 2016/17 MY. In addition, The Zimbabwean government, in a drive to stimulate corn production, implemented a special program for import substitution, commonly termed as “Command Agriculture”.

The program aimed at supporting irrigated and dry land farmers to produce two million tons of corn to cover the country’s annual requirement for human consumption and livestock feed. The program was implemented at the beginning of the 2017/18 MY. Similar to a contract arrangement, each farmer participating in the program received a full production input package, including seed, fertilizers, chemicals and fuel to plant a specified area under corn. After harvesting the corn, the farmers have an obligation to deliver a specified corn tonnage to the Grain Marketing Board as repayment for the loan. Farmers responded favorably to the “Command Agriculture” program and to the government’s guaranteed corn producer price of $390 per ton. A total of 168,666 hectares were planted under the program and 6,319 tons of seed, 10.1 million liters of fuel, 50,150 tons of basal fertilizers and 31,465 tons of top dressing fertilizers were distributed.

Another support program that is used by the Zimbabwean government to enhance corn production is the Presidential Input Scheme. Through this scheme the Zimbabwean government distributed free inputs for corn production to 820,000 smallholder farmers, where each farmer received seed and fertilizer for 0.4 hectares of corn. Inputs distributed under this scheme in the 2017/18 MY were 8,839 tons of corn seed, 7,665 tons of basal fertilizer and 2,4831 tons of top dressing fertilizers.

In mid-June the Ministry of Agriculture released the results of a second round crop assessment carried out from April 2017 to May 2017 to assess crop area and estimate national production. The Zimbabwean government estimates the national corn crop in the 2017/18 MY at around 2.2 million tons, up more than 300 percent from the 2016/17 MY’s corn crop of 512,000 tons and three times more than the 742,000 tons produced in the 2015/16 MY. For the first time in over a decade, Zimbabwe will be self-sufficient in corn production. The 2017/18 MY’s national average corn yield is estimated at around 1.2 tons per hectare compared to the less than 0.7 tons per hectare of the previous two seasons.

Cases of fall army worm (Spodoptera frugiperda) were reported on corn and sorghum in the country. Information on the extent of yield reduction was difficult to obtain. Yield reduction estimates by some field extension personnel range from five percent to 15 percent due to the pest. A number of registered chemicals have been recommended for control of the pest and are available on the market. Zimbabwe’s policy on Genetically Engineered (GE) corn has not changed. Cultivation of GE corn is prohibited, but GE corn for consumption can be imported if milled into flour under government supervision.

Consumption

White corn is grown for human consumption as the staple diet whilst the livestock industry utilizes yellow corn in the manufacturing of stock feed. Per capita consumption of corn is estimated at about 110kg per annum. Hence, post estimates Zimbabwe’s annual corn requirement for human consumption at around 1.6 million tons. In addition, 350,000 tons of corn is required for livestock feed. Thus, the total national demand for corn in the 2017/18 MY is estimated at 2.0 million tons, up marginally from the estimated 1.9 million tons consumed in the 2016/17 MY. Given Zimbabwe’s slow economic growth, consumption patterns are unlikely to change drastically. The Zimbabwean government passed Statutory Instrument 120 of 2017, a regulation making the fortification of the country's four main food commodities namely corn flour (meal), wheat flour, sugar and cooking oil mandatory. The regulation requires millers to fortify corn flour and wheat flour with vitamin A, B1, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, iron and zinc with effect from July 1, 2017. This regulation was passed as part of the Zimbabwe National Food Fortification Strategy that aims to prevent micronutrient deficiencies amongst Zimbabweans. However, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe requested an indefinite postponement of the food fortification program due to challenges with the import of the required fortification equipment. The Zimbabwean government has indicated its willingness to consider waiver applications. As a result, post believes that the mandatory fortification regulation will not impact corn consumption patterns in the 2017/18 MY.

Trade

As a result of the good harvest this season, post estimates that Zimbabwe will not have to import any corn in the 2017/18 MY. In fact, the Zimbabwean government stopped issuing corn imports permits as of March 2017. Zimbabwe has been a net importer of corn for the last 15 years. Surplus corn in the 2017/18 MY is unlikely to be exported and will be included in Zimbabwe’s strategic grain reserve.

Post estimates that Zimbabwe had to import about 1.4 million tons of corn between May 2016 and April 2017 due to the impact of the drought. A total of 210,279 tons, 26 percent of corn imports, were from South Africa (120,743 tons white corn and 89,536 tons yellow corn). Corn was also imported from Mexico, Zambia, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Russia and Mozambique in the 2016/17 MY. In the 2015/16 MY, Zimbabwe imported about 800,000 tons of corn.

Local Prices

Government, through the Grain Marketing Board, is offering US$390 per ton for corn, the highest price in the southern African region. Government has defended the high corn price as an incentive for farmers to grow more corn. However, the Grain Marketing Board has serious liquidity constraints and hence limited capacity to buy large volumes of corn. Private grain traders on the other hand are offering lower prices for corn of between US$280 and US$310 per ton.

PS&D table for corn

Corn

2015/2016

2016/2017

2017/2018

Market Begin Year

May 2015


May 2016


May 2017


Zimbabwe

USDA Official

New Post

USDA Official

New Post

USDA Official

New Post

Area Harvested

1530

1530

800

774

1200

1875

Beginning Stocks

178

178

40

40

102

102

Production

742

742

512

512

1000

2155

MY Imports

800

800

1400

1400

900

0

TY Imports

800

800

1400

1400

900

0

TY Imp. from U.S.

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total Supply

1720

1720

1952

1952

2002

2257

MY Exports

0

0

0

0

0

0

TY Exports

0

0

0

0

0

0

Feed and Residual

200

200

300

300

300

350

FSI Consumption

1480

1480

1550

1550

1600

1600

Total Consumption

1680

1680

1850

1850

1900

1950

Ending Stocks

40

40

102

102

102

307

Total Distribution

1720

1720

1952

1952

2002

2257

Yield

0.485

0.485

0.64

0.6615

0.8333

1.1972

Wheat

Production

The Zimbabwean government and private sector are currently trying to revive winter wheat production which has been on a declining trend for the last decade. Major production constraints are the high cost of production coupled with relatively low capital returns. As with corn, the Zimbabwean government put up a special import substitution wheat loan scheme to fund wheat production inputs such as wheat seed, fertilizers, chemicals and tillage services for producers with irrigation facilities. After harvesting the wheat, the farmers have an obligation to deliver a specified wheat tonnage to the Grain Marketing Board as repayment for the loan. Post estimates wheat area planted under government support in 2017 at about 20,000 hectares, well below the government target of 50,000 hectares. Private sector players contracted about 15,000 hectares of wheat and are projecting yields of four to five tons per hectare. The wheat crop in Zimbabwe is fully irrigated and is harvested in October. Currently, most dam levels are high following the good rainfall season. Hence, post estimates that farmers planted 35,000 hectares of wheat for the 2017/18 MY, up 250 percent from the 10,000 hectares planted in the 2016/17 MY.

Based on normal climatic conditions and a possible national yield of three tons per hectare, wheat production in the 2017/18 MY is estimated at about 105,000 tons. A wheat crop of 105,000 tons is five times more than the wheat crops produced in the 2016/17 MY and 2015/16 MY.

Consumption

Wheat is widely consumed by over 10 million people in Zimbabwe, which is about 70 percent of the country’s population, predominantly as bread. It is the second most important cereal for food security after corn. Daily bread production by the bakeries is currently estimated at about 850,000 loaves. Millers estimate the country’s monthly wheat consumption at about 25,000 tons. Post forecasts that wheat consumption patterns in 2016/17 MY and 2017/18 MY will remain at 300,000 tons per annum, due to slow economic growth in Zimbabwe. Local bread prices have remained stable at between US$0.85 and US$1.00 per standard and superior loaf, respectively.

Trade

With Zimbabwe relying on imports to meet domestic requirements, wheat imports in the 2015/16 MY reached 280,000 tons after 20,000 tons was harvested from the 2015 winter wheat crop. ZIMSTAT data shows that for the first six months of the 2016/17 MY i.e. between October 2016 and March 2017, Zimbabwe imported 150,511 tons wheat mainly from Poland, Russia, Canada and South Africa. Imports in the 2016/17 MY are expected to also reach 280,000 tons. In 2017/18 MY imports are estimated to decline to 200,000 tons due to improved production and an increase in area planted.

PS&D table for wheat

Wheat

2015/2016

2016/2017

2017/2018

Market Begin Year

Jul 2015

Jul 2016

Jul 2017

Zimbabwe

USDA Official

New Post

USDA Official

New Post

USDA Official

New Post

Area Harvested

10

10

10

10

10

35

Beginning Stocks

11

11

11

11

11

11

Production

20

20

20

20

20

105

MY Imports

280

280

280

280

280

200

TY Imports

280

280

280

280

280

0

TY Imp. from U.S.

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total Supply

311

311

311

311

311

316

MY Exports

0

0

0

0

0

0

TY Exports

0

0

0

0

0

0

Feed and Residual

0

0

0

0

0

0

FSI Consumption

300

300

300

300

300

300

Total Consumption

300

300

300

300

300

300

Ending Stocks

11

11

11

11

11

16

Total Distribution

311

311

311

311

311

316

Yield

2

2

2

2

2

3