The Zimbabwean government has contracted to import 565,000 tonnes of maize in the coming year, official media reported. The state-run Chronicle newspaper quoted Grain Marketing Board logistics manager Nick Gukwa as saying 480,000 tonnes would be imported from South Africa with another 85,000 tonnes sourced in Zambia.
A source at the central bank said the GMB has asked for US$200 million for imports.
General manager Anne Enslin of South Africa Grain Information Services said Harare has imported some 88,000 tonnes since May. Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa said Lusaka had sold 85,000 tonnes to Harare for US$20 million, while Zambian private firms shipped another 30,000 tonnes to Zimbabwe.
Agriculture experts noted the irony that Zambia has been a main destination for white farmers driven out of Zimbabwe since 2000 under the land reform program that most agricultural experts and economists say has devastated Zimbabwe's farm sector.
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe interviewed Graham Rey, who used to farm in Mashonaland Central's Bindura area north of Harare but now works the land in Central Zambia’s Chisamba area. Rey said Harare is also importing seed grain grown in Zambia by white Zimbabwean farmers who resettled there.
Rey sits on the boards of the Zambia National Farmers Union and the Grains Council.
Agricultural expert Vincent Gwaradzimba said a lack of incentives and inputs such as fertilizer and fuel is discouraging Zimbabwean farmers from growing grain.
Gwaradzimba is deputy secretary for agriculture in the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...