March 15, 2016
An El Nino weather has severely impacted Zimbabwe's corn plantings with unpredictable rainfalls and a blazing dry spell that is threatening livestock in the provinces of Matabeleland, Manicaland and Masvingo.
Corn shortages are not only causing hunger among the local population but is becoming a grave problem - along with delays in corn imports - for the livestock sector.
"Industry representatives have expressed concerns regarding the long-term supply of corn and soy through to the 2017 harvest and are engaging all stakeholders, including Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, to deliberate on strategies to sustain the livestock sector," said Solomon Zawe, chair of the Zimbabwe Poultry Association.
Delay in the approval of import licenses had frustrated local grain millers who expressed their displeasures to the Zimbabwean government in January. Additionally, the country could only produce just above 1.2 million tonnes of corn, falling short of the required two million tonnes volume per annum.
Zimbabwe is currently coping with a national deficit of 700,000 tonnes of corn which is supplied by both the government and private sectors.
In the meantime, competition among layer producers is reportedly tight while demand is very low, Zawe added. Producer price for broilers ranged between $1.85 to $1.90 per kilogramme while wholesale prices were between $2.50 to $2.80 per kilogramme.
"Imports appear to have declined from the end of November right through the festive season," Zawe commented. More complications arise with the declining local demand and diminishing buying power.
According to Zawe, 2015's output for poultry feeds averaged 30,608 tonnes monthly, a 10% increase over 2014 and accounting for 69% of all feeds produced by weight and 76% by monetary value.
The production of broiler grower, layer rearing and layer production feeds rose by 33%, 55% and 15%, respectively, while broiler starter, broiler finisher and breeder feeds changed 0%, 4% and -14%, compared to 2014.