FEWS Zimbabwe Food Security Update: 26 Jul 2001



Zimbabwe's wheat stocks were estimated at 116,000 MT at the end of May, of which 81,000 MT were official stocks. Wheat consumption has gone down since the two consecutive 20 percent bread price increases. At an average consumption rate of 27,400 MT per month, Zimbabwe will have just enough wheat to last until the next harvest at the end of September 2001.

Wheat stocks could be as low as 6,500 MT at the end of September 2001, before the new harvest comes into the market in October. Zimbabwe is projected to harvest between 250,000 MT and 280,000 MT of wheat in September/October.

The wheat price at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ZIMACE) increased by 10 percent from May to Z$24,000 per MT in June as the volumes of wheat available in the market decreased.

The Ministry of Agriculture granted a temporary monopoly to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) on July 16 for buying and selling maize both internally and externally. The Government has suspended the ZIMACE trade in maize and wheat, and millers may no longer buy from farmers. Depending on how long this monopoly lasts and how strictly it is enforced, Zimbabweans far from GMB depots are likely to run into maize availability problems.

The Government has announced that it plans to import about 544,000 MT of maize in 2001/02. The ultimate level of imports depends on the Government's desired closing stocks and the potential for the 2001/02 production year (November-March). It is possible for the Government to import about 300,000 MT of maize and close the season with about 150,000 MT, almost similar to the closing stocks of 1998/99 consumption year, provided it does not need to fill the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) to capacity. By importing this lower volume, the Government could save US$48.8 million, which it could use to finance production programs in the 2001/02 production season.

Following the fuel price increase of 70 percent in June, the price of most basic commodities increased by over 70 percent and transport by more than 50 percent. The recent fuel increase has also led to an increase in the price of maize grain in urban retail markets between 4 and 30 percent in June above May prices.

Maize input costs have gone up by between 50 and 80 percent since November 2000. The price of maize seed has increased the most, by 83 percent.

Since the end of the rainfall season in April, the major dams have lost only two percent of their maximum volume, which (as of 16 July) stood on average at 98 percent of capacity.

1. Current Food Security Conditions

A total of 52,000 Ha were planted to wheat. At a normal average yield of 5.5 MT per hectare achieved in the past, Zimbabwe could produce more than 280,000 MT at harvest time in October, but the final output will be determined at the end of the year. If there are no disturbances to wheat growing and harvesting, the expected harvest would be 10 percent more than last year's level or a 14 percent increase from the 1990s average of 246,200 MT.

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