Zimbabwe’s government acquired 650,000 metric tons of corn from Zambia and Ukraine after back-to-back droughts cut the size of its harvest to a record low.
“We are now putting up logistics for the delivery of the maize,” Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told reporters in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday, using a local term for corn.
Zimbabwe has appealed for $1.6 billion to feed 3 million people -- about a quarter of the population -- after the worst drought in more than two decades damaged crops, killed livestock and led President Robert Mugabe to declare a disaster.
The southern African nation has “mobilized” $200 million to fight hunger, Mnangagwa said. Central bank Governor John Mangudya in January said that the country had secured a $200 million loan from African Export-Import Bank to import corn, used in a staple dish, while the European Union had promised 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million), NewsDay reported. The nation has 250,000 tons of corn reserves that should last until September, Mangudya was cited as saying by the newspaper.
Zimbabwean farmers will probably produce about 200,000 tons of corn this year, the smallest harvest since at least 1961 when the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization began collecting the data. Consumption is projected at about 1.1 million tons to 2 million tons in 2016-17.
This is the second year of low rainfall in Zimbabwe and the weather pattern may be linked to the El Nino phenomenon, according to the UN humanitarian agency.
Drought has also affected the broader region. South Africa says it may have to import 3.8 million tons of corn in the year through April 2017, with some of those supplies being funneled to Southern African Development Community nations including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.
Zimbabwe’s neighbor Zambia has also been affected by a dry spell, which may cut this year’s harvest to the smallest since
2009. Zambia will have enough corn to make good on its promise to export some to Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa said on Wednesday.