dr joseph made 08.09.10.jpgGovernment will continue to import grain to support the country’s food reserves despite a projection of 9% increment in maize yield that will see Zimbabwe harvesting 1.4 million tonnes this season compared to 1.3 million produced in the previous season.

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.

Dr  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.

“Let 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,” he said.

Dr Made however said the country could experience a slight grain surplus and attributed the expected increase  in crop yield this season to the availability of inputs much of which he said was availed from the President’s  input scheme.

“The president’s well wishers input scheme has remained the farmers hope on inputs as it provided the bulk of farmers’ requirements this season…The cabinet has since recommended that the scheme remains in place…,” 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 government’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 output  of minus 28% from what was harvested the previous season.