Some 14 million people face hunger in Southern Africa, including 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s population, due to drought made worse by extreme weather phenomenon El Nino.
Zimbabwe has, therefore, secured a $200 million loan from Africa Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to import maize, to avert hunger, as poor rains affect crops.
“We have arranged a facility of $200 million from Afreximbank and we will be importing from anywhere in the world,” state radio quoted central bank governor John Mangudya to have said.
Zimbabwe said early this month, it planned to import up to 700,000 tonnes of the staple this year to avert hunger. South Africa, southern Africa’s largest maize producer, had also last week announced plans to import up to 6 million tonnes of maize to satisfy local demand, as El Nino exacerbate drought conditions in the sub-region.
Zimbabwe’s annual maize consumption is 1.5 million tonnes but the country could only produce half of that in 2015.
Apart from food scarcity, the country’s economic crisis could worsen as a result of the current drought conditions. Agriculture is very important to Zimbabwe, as it accounts for 30 percent of export earnings and contributes 19 percent to GDP.
The central bank governor said Zimbabwe had 250,000 tonnes in its strategic reserves, adding that the country had enough maize to last until September.