Zimbabwean farmers' organisations warn of corn shortage

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Zimbabwean farmers' organisations have warned that the country may face a corn shortage, and corn crops may fail due to prolonged periods without rain.

The Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) and the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZFCU) estimate that Zimbabwe might have to import up to a million metric tons of corn.

"All indications are that this season will be a total disaster. We will be very lucky if we get more than 500,000 tonnes," commented Deon Theron, who is the president of the CFU. In a telepone interview with Bloomberg, he also said that "this season is going to be a disaster."

Theron told the Reuters news agency that "we need about 1.8 million tonnes of maize, so over a million tonnes will have to be made up by imports."

"The dry spells came at precisely the wrong time," said ZFCU president William Nyabonda.

The organisations' estimates contradict preliminary estimates by the Zimbabwean unity coalition government, which suggest that the country's maize output will be 2.5 million tonnes this season, twice the output of 2009. The government now says it believes the output will be poor, but hasn't yet altered its projection, instead saying that it will conduct a nationwide crop assessment.