ZIMBABWE— A report by United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service Post in Pretoria estimates Zimbabwe’s corn crop for marketing year (MY) 2022/23 at 1.6 million metric tons (MMT), representing a drop of 43 percent from the bumper crop of 2.7 MMT produced in MY 2021/22.

Many factors contributed to the drop in production including on-going macro-economic challenges sub-optimal weather conditions and high input costs especially of fuel and fertilizer.

As a result, the ban on corn imports that was in place since May 2021 has been lifted by the Zimbabwean government. After previously enjoying the status of a surplus producer of corn, Zimbabwe has become a net food importer over the past 20 years.

The same holds true for MY 2022/23 with Zimbabwe expecting to import 400,000 MT of corn, including provisions for maintaining the mandated minimum strategic grain reserve of 500,000 MT in physical stocks.

Ending stock levels for MY 2020/21 was estimated at less than 100,000 tons, far lower than the mandated minimum strategic reserve of 500,000 tons. However, for MY 2021/22 corn ending stock levels recovered and reached the minimum strategic reserve levels for the first time in three years on the back of a bumper crop.

Post estimates corn imports in MY 2021/22 at 36,000 MT, a major drop from the 550,000 MT imported in MY 2020/21, due to the production of a bumper crop.

More than 90 percent of the strategic grain reserve consists of corn. However, low production has made it difficult for the GMB to maintain the strategic grain reserves at the prescribed level in the past.

Corn is the main staple food crop for most Zimbabweans. White corn is used for human consumption as the staple diet, while the livestock industry utilizes yellow corn in the manufacturing of stock feed.

Post estimates Zimbabwe’s corn requirement for human consumption at around 1.8 MMT in MY 2022/23, with an additional 350,000 MT of corn required for livestock feed, bringing Zimbabwe’s estimated total national demand for corn in MY 2022/23 to 2.2 MM.

Zimbabwe’s expected drop in corn production contrasts the International Grain Council’s upward revision of the global grain output for the 2021-22 MY.

The council projects a record global total grains outturn of 2.29 billion tonnes, up from 2.22 billion tonnes in 2020-21.

Looking ahead to the 2022-23 marketing year, which begins July 1, the IGC forecasts totals grains output at 4 million tonnes higher than in its May report, but 35 million tonnes lower than in 2021-22.

The IGC said the monthly upward revision was mainly tied to “a revised maize projection for Ukraine, where acreage exceeded expectations.”

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