The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made, made the remarks while addressing journalists in Harare on the final crop assessment for 2011 presented to cabinet.
DrÂ Made said despite the country having planted over 16% more hectares of maize and finger millet this season compared to the previous one, the difference in the total amount of yield is going to be marginal as most regions of the country experienced mid-season drought that reduced the potential yield per hectare.
â€œLet me emphasise that we will continue to import maize as a country. It has to be noted that the mid-season drought has made it difficult for some regions to realise the projected yield,â€ he said.
Dr Made however said the country could experience a slight grain surplus and attributed the expected increaseÂ in crop yield this season to the availability of inputs much of which he said was availed from the Presidentâ€™sÂ input scheme.
â€œThe presidentâ€™s well wishers input scheme has remained the farmers hope on inputs as it provided the bulk of farmersâ€™ requirements this season…The cabinet has since recommended that the scheme remains in place…,â€ he said.
This season the country is projected to produce 1 451 629 tonnes of maize from 2 096 035 hectares, a marginal increase from 1 327 572 tonnes that were harvested from 1 803 542 hectares planted last year.
The governmentâ€™s crop assessment shows tobacco recording the biggest percentage increase in output of 44% with 177 792 tonnes expected to be harvested from 148 160 hectares up from 123 400 tonnes harvested from 148 160 hectares in the previous season.
However, the government is projecting a significant decline in cotton of minus 15% with sorghum recording the biggest drop in outputÂ of minus 28% from what was harvested the previous season.