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