ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe is set to purchase a total of 700,000 tonnes of maize from Tanzania aimed at easing food shortage challenges following the El-Nino induced drought that has negatively impacted on the country’s agric sector.

This is per the commitment made by Tanzania’s head of state, President John Magufuli to his Zimbabwean counterpart, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, during his recent official visit in Harare.

According to President Magufuli, Tanzania had a total of 3.3 million tonnes in surplus of the commodity following the recent bumper harvest.

Tanzania harvested 16.8 million tonnes of maize compared to the country’s annual demand of about 13.5 million tonnes.

Following the development, Minister for Agriculture, Mr Japhet Hasunga, has said that a delegation from Zimbabwe is expected to visit the country for five days to assess the quality of maize.

Mr Hasunga said Zimbabwe has also considered procuring other crops such as cashew nuts, legumes, vegetables and fruits.

Tanzania has been going beyond its borders to seek potential markets for its surplus targeting Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to sell off the surplus.

During the meeting President Mnangagwa assured his counterpart of his administration’s commitment to increase economic cooperation between the two countries and explore new areas of partnerships.

The two countries are considering to strengthen their economic ties in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and logistics among other sectors.

Last month the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe revealed that the country is only left with between 500 000 to 700 000 tonnes of maize which is close to seven months’ supply of the staple crop after a reduced harvest due to drought warning it was important the country begins importing grain.

According to data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), the country imported maize worth US$976 765 in three months, from February to April this year.

Beside maize imports, the country also imported rice worth US$34.4 million, $27.4 million worth of durum wheat, soya beans valued at US$3.2 million, ground nuts worth US$2.1 million and fresh grapes valued at US$1.2 million among others.

Prices of basic commodities have shot up in recent weeks, with fuel in particular hitting record highs triggering a domino effect on all sectors of the economy.