HARARE, ZIMBABWE — Zimbabwe’s corn crop in the 2022-23 marketing year is forecast to plunge 43% from the previous year’s bumper crop, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA forecasts a decline in production from 2.7 million tonnes, which was the largest in three decades, to 1.6 million. Factors contributing to the drop include sub-optimal weather conditions, high input costs and macro-economic challenges, the report said.

As a result, the Zimbabwean government has lifted its ban on corn imports that had been in place since May 2021. With an estimated annual corn requirement of 2.2 million tonnes, Zimbabwe will have to import about 400,000 tonnes of corn in 2022-23, the USDA said.

“Although a sharp drop in corn production is expected in 2022-23, the crop will still be above the 10-year average crop size of 1.3 million tonnes and mirrors the 10-year average yield of 0.82 tonnes per hectare,” the USDA said.

Corn is the main staple food crop for most Zimbabweans, with the USDA estimating the country’s corn requirement for human consumption at around 1.8 million tonnes.