When Zimbabwe suspended maize imports from South Africa on 20 May 2021, it came as a shock to the local industry. In the marketing year prior to the ban, Zimbabwe received up to 20% of South Africa’s exported maize.
Speaking on the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast, independent political and policy specialist Theo Venter says that the country’s move to suspend imports may have not been the smartest.
“It seems that they will have a harvest of about 2.8 million tonnes. So they do have a lot of maize, but this is a very, very special year. Next year, or the year after that, they may have food shortages again and then they will have to renegotiate. That’s why I don’t think it’s a smart move to just stop the imports.”
Venter is sure that, when they have more information about their crops, Zimbabwe will likely reconsider the ban. “Once they have more details about how much white (maize), and how much yellow (maize they have), then they will reconsider,” he says.
“Traditionally, people in Southern Africa like white maize, they don’t like the yellow maize. We are actually the only part of the world, except for Mexico, that is so much for white maize, which makes it kind of a unique product.”
While South Africa’s agricultural sector is taken aback by the suspension, Venter thinks that the country has a big enough market to redirect sales to. “SA will also, I think, have the second-best maize harvest in history. And I think we’ve got enough markets – there’s enough need for white maize – to take us through the year.”
Other podcast highlights:
This episode of Mzansi’s favourite farming podcast also has other highlights for the agricultural sector:
- The 101 of rabbit farming: Journalist Nicole Ludolph chats to agripreneur and rabbit farmer Daisy Moleka, about the ins and outs of farming with rabbits.
- Changing the face of agriculture in Africa: Vibrant Zimbabwean farmer Tamara Happyface Kaunda tells us more about how she aims to change agriculture on the continent.
- Farmer tip of the week: Our farmer tip of the week comes from Eastern Cape grain farmer Sinelizwi Fakade who gives us a glimpse into building retailer and supplier relationships.
- Book of the week: Our book of the week is The e-myth revisited: Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it, by Michael E. Gerber.
- Soil Sistas: This week’s #SoilSista, powered by Food For Mzansi and Corteva Agriscience, is North West rabbit farmer Lesego Morapeli. She saw a gap in the agri-market, and ran with it.
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