News Column

Shortages Feared As Zim Bans Maize Imports

July 7, 2014

Pepukai Regerai



Zimbabweans have slammed the government's ban on imports of the staple maize and maize meal decrying the prohibition would create shortages.

Zimbabwe recently announced it had banned the importation of the products to protect ordinary farmers following a bumper harvest this year.

The business community has thus called on the government to reverse its decision amid reports local farmers said they would not sell their produce to the formal market due to poor prices.

Businessman, Fainos Murombe, of Masvingo said the ban would create artificial shortages with farmers reluctant to deliver their crop to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

"We are starting to feel the bad effects of the move because as it stands, no farmer has delivered any maize to the formal market despite projections that the country had a bumper harvest", said Murombe.

"While this was done under the guise of protecting farmers the move will further negatively affect our economy through artificial shortages, I foresee a scenario where maize and maize meal will only be traded outside the formal market. We are urging the government to immediately reverse its decision for the benefit of the nation," he added.

Another businessman, Fibrin Mukanda, echoed Murombe's sentiments.

"Most supermarkets are currently filled with maize meal from South African Maize. The product has been on the market since 2005 and banning it will not solve anything, " he said.

If you want to grow your economy market forces should be allowed to prevail that is to say let our own products compete with those from anywhere else in the region and at the end of the day a better product will find its way out due to competition because of its quality he added.

Consumers also expressed concern the ban would result in hunger reminiscent of the economic problems experienced five years ago.

"We are saying the government should reverse its decision because we do not want to go back to 2008 where maize and maize meals were pure gold in terms of scarcity.

"We would love a situation where we choose which maize meal to buy and not to be restricted to a single product it is bad and this has caused a lot of suffering," said Jairos Munyira of Mucheke in Masvingo.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce applauded the import ban but conceded it might have negative repercussions.

"We welcome the move but this should be done cautiously since it might hurt our economy," the organisations Davison Nerupiri said.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union Provincial Chairman, Jeremiah Chimwanda, was also wary of shortages.

"We welcome the move but our fear remains that of shortages. We heard farmers saying because of successive droughts, they will keep their crop for strategic reserves in case of another drought. In addition we hear that farmers are not happy with current prices being offered by the GMB," he said.

The GMB has set the price of US$D per tonne of maize while farmers demand US$400.

Nonetheless government defended the ban on imports.

"This measure was put in place following consultations and we feel it will work for the benefit of the country, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation Development", David Marapira said.


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Source: AllAfrica


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