Tanzania unlikeliest saviour in SADC maize crunch

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From Alloyce Kimbunga in Dar-es-Salaam
TANZANIA, which will export maize to some
countries plagued by inclement weather and droughts, has emerged the
sole shining light in the Southern African Development Community’s
(SADC) corn crisis.

The country is set to sell 700 000 tonnes of the staple maize food to
Zimbabwe, which is enduring reduced yields after the Cyclone Idai
ravaged crops when it made landfall in March. Tanzania is also exporting
one million tonnes of maize to Kenya, which is experiencing yet another
drought.

This represents the highest amount of corn Tanzania has exported in
history.

For a country that has continually faced food shortages and hunger
crisis over the years, the country of 60 million people is the
unlikeliest of exporters.

“Sometimes the light comes from the most unusual places,” noted Wandile
Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South
Africa.

He said at first glance, it was inconceivable that Tanzania could export
that much maize, with its yearly production set to be about 5,5 million
tonnes, which is up by 2 percent from the previous season. This is
against an annual consumption of 5,3 million tonnes.

However, the economist pointed out, “…but the thing is, Tanzania has had
a really good harvest over the past few years.”

Over this period, the country managed to accumulate large reserves with
the 2019 maize stocks estimated at 944 000 tonnes.

“So, if one adds the ending-stocks data, with the expected harvest, it
is conceivable that Tanzania could emerge as a saviour in this maize
supply challenge in Southern and East Africa,” Sihlobo added.

President John Magufuli recently stated Tanzania had a surplus during
the 2018/19 farming season and felt obliged to assist fellow SADC member
state, Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s 2019 maize production is estimated at 800
000 tonnes, slightly more than a half lower than the previous year.
Zimbabwe requires some 2 million tonnes annually.

Apart from Zimbabwe, Mozambique is another country facing imminent
shortages after the devastating Cyclone Idai struck.

It was the epicentre of the disaster and was struck by another cyclone,
Kenneth, a few weeks later. The 2018/19 maize harvest for Mozambique could fall by
27 percent year-on-year to 1,8 million tonnes.

Droughts, which delayed plantings at the start of the 2019 season, also
affected Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

A crisis was feared as South Africa and Zambia, who are typically the
region’s maize exporters, are expected to have tight supplies due to
lower production in the 2018/19 production season.

- CAJ News



 

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