Zim staple imports rise

HARARE - With at least 3,3 million Zimbabweans facing hunger, Zimbabwe in March alone imported maize worth $14,4 million and rice valued at $5,8 million.

Data from the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (Zimstat) indicates that during the month of March alone, maize and mealie-meal imports worth $20,2 million made their way into the country.

In February, maize imports valued at $21,4 million were imported as another batch worth $18,2 million passed through the country’s various borders in January.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (Fao) has warned that the southern African region faces the possibility of floods and droughts induced by the El Nino weather phenomenon — which is predicted to be the worst since 1997.

The El Nino phenomenon is a periodic weather pattern that occurs above the Pacific Ocean every five years and causes extreme climatic conditions such as droughts and floods in many regions of the world.

Zimbabwe has already declared a state of disaster and is appealing to international donors to offer aid promptly for relief to its hungry masses.

Apart from electrical energy and fuel, maize and rice are the country’s biggest imports.

According to Zimstat, the country imported rice worth $5,8 million in March up from the $5,5 million imported in February and $4,3 million for January.

This comes as a United Kingdom-based research group, BMI Research, recently predicted that Zimbabwe will remain a net importer of maize until at least 2020.

The country was recently ranked number 18 in the top 20 countries most prone to hunger in 2016 by the International Food Policy Research Institute, in its Global Hunger Index (GHI).

Zimbabwe, which has been receiving unreliable rainfall in the past two years, will according to the GHI see “starvation-ranking hunger” in 2016.

With an estimated likelihood of starvation this year at 36,6 percent, the World Economic Forum (Wef) says the majority of Zimbabweans will starve.

In its Global Risks Perception Survey 2016, Wef said the highest risks Zimbabweans are faced with this year are fiscal and food catastrophes.

According to Fao, over 18 percent of the population will be food insecure at the peak of the 2015-16 lean seasons, the period following harvest when food is especially scarce. This represents a 164 percent increase in food insecurity compared to the previous season.

Meanwhile, during the same month of March, Zimbabwe spent $175 million on petroleum products up from the $164 million for the same period last year.

Cumulatively, fuel imported during the first quarter amounted to $339 million.

Electrical energy imported during the month of March was worth $22,5 million as Zimbabwe moved to plug electrical deficits.

Comments (1)

Robert Mugabe is credited with empowering black citizens and indigenizing businesses and correcting the imbalance of land ownership, all gestures that many see as positive steps in the right direction. The big question is: why is our economy now in such poor shape forcing literally millions to flee the country and try and seek employment elsewhere? Our country in the 70's and 80's used to be a mass exporter of maize and other staples earning much forex in the process - now it is the other way around. Even our schools, hospitals and other essential services have all deteriorated. Look at the poor state of our roads and how filthy our streets have become? All but a few of the political elite are happy with the state we now find ourselves in. So who is to blame for the mess we now find ourselves in? I point my finger at one person: Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He will go down in history as a prime example of how not to run a country. Time all of us woke up and stopped living in a dream world.

Phukit - 18 April 2016

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