Govt can curb forex shortages by commercializing rice production

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HARARE – The Zimbabwe Government can cut  expenditure that it incurs annually to import rice through starting to  produce the crop on a commercial basis and save much needed foreign  currency.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency latest report, the  country splashed $13, 1 million on rice imports in February this year  alone while more than $98, 9 million was spent between January and  November last year.

Analysts say this should be taken put into consideration given the  country’s precarious foreign currency situation, which has led to the  collapse of many industries.

Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement deputy Minister Davis  Marapira said they were working on commercializing rice production in  order to save foreign currency.

“It is actually our policy that we should not import things that we can  grow locally and rice is one of the crops which we have to grow locally  so that we save our foreign currency. So our research department is busy  researching on the best variety which we can grow locally and which can  produce better results,” he said.

“Better results in terms of yield per hectare. Like in other countries  rice is doing 10 to 15 tons per hectare. So we want to research on rice,  which we can grow here in Zimbabwe and be able to achieve at least 10  tons per hectare,” he said

Annual demand for rice in Zimbabwe increased by 300 from 50 000 tons in 2007 to 200 000 tonnes in 2016, according to the Grain Millers  Association of Zimbabwe.

Agricultural experts say rice is now the leading provider of food  calories in West Africa and Madagascar and it is now the second largest  source of food energy in sub-Saharan Africa. – New Ziana

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