Zimbabwe Provides Free Inputs for Corn Production
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The USDA estimates a five percent increase, to 1.5 MMT, in Zimbabwe’s Corn crop in MY 2023/24, mainly due to an average rainfall season in the northern regions of the country. Though the southern parts of Zimbabwe received below-average rainfall during the season, almost 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s Corn crop is usually produced in the northern parts of the country. On the other hand, Post estimates that Corn area dropped by five percent to 1.8 million hectares (MHa) in MY 2023/24 due to the lack of availability and cost of fertilizer, seed, fuel, and pesticides, contributing to the decision by farmers to scale down on Corn area. The estimated 1.5 MMT of Corn production in MY 2023/24 mirrors the average Corn production of Zimbabwe over the past five years.
Overall, Zimbabwe had an excellent start to MY 2023/24 with widespread rainfall in October and November 2022, and as a result, the bulk of the Corn crop was planted early. However, a dry spell in December negatively impacted crop production, especially in the southeastern and southwestern parts of the country. Weather conditions improved in early 2023 in the northern region, while prolonged dry spells continued to adversely affect crops in the southern and western areas of the country. In the north, average rainfall was conducive to crop development.
Farmers’ ability to optimize Corn production was obstructed by ongoing macroeconomic challenges and relatively high input costs, especially for fuel and fertilizer. Zimbabwe is a net fertilizer importer, and supply chain disruptions generated shortages in the market, leading to significant price hikes. Although the distribution of subsidized agricultural inputs through Government input support schemes contributed to the positive trend in Corn production over the past ten years, more than 65 percent of Corn production in MY 2023/24 was self-financed.
Fall Armyworm remained a significant challenge during the season. The pest affected all the producing areas in Zimbabwe, and control was hampered by the high cost of chemicals as the cultivation of GE Corn in Zimbabwe is still prohibited. The country still disallows the commercial release of GE seeds due to health and environmental safety concerns. Zimbabwe has taken a precautionary approach towards risk regulation of GE products and technologies, as reflected and reinforced by adopting the National Biotechnology Authority Act of 2006. Nevertheless, the country has agreed to allow researchers to conduct trials for GE cotton, which the National Biotechnology Authority regulates. Zimbabwe has legislative instruments to allow research up to the open quarantine or confined field trial level.
The 2022/23 agricultural season concluded with an extended dry spell in March and April, possibly adversely affecting yields. The estimated average Corn yield in MY 2023/24 of 0.84 MT/Ha mirrors the 5-year average yield and is 11 percent higher than the previous marketing year’s yield of 0.76 MT/Ha.
Zimbabwean Government Support for Corn Planting
One of the Government input programs, the Presidential Input Scheme, supported about 350,000 Ha (about 20 percent of the total area) planted by smallholder farmers in communal areas by distributing free inputs for Corn production. Almost half Zimbabwe’s Corn crop is produced by the communal sector in 60 percent of the Corn area. The National Enhancement Agriculture Productivity Scheme (NEAPS), which subsidizes larger farming enterprises, supported about 205,000 Ha (about 11 percent of the total area).
Like a contract arrangement, each farmer participating in the schemes receives a full production input package to plant Corn in a specified area, including seed, fertilizers, chemicals, and fuel. After harvesting, the farmers should deliver a specified tonnage to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as repayment for the loan.
Other sources: USDA
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