Zimbabwe maize, wheat crops to fall in 2009

DURBAN – Zimbabwe's maize output is expected to fall to 396,250 tonnes during the 2008/09 season compared with 417,000 tonnes in the 2007/08 season, the Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe (CFU) said on Thursday.

Hendrik Olivier, the chief executive of the CFU, said the union’s latest harvest estimates showed wheat output was likely to drop to 18,050 tonnes in 2009 versus 25,550 tonnes in 2008.

He said production of flue-cured tobacco, formerly one of the country’s main agricultural exports, will likely fall to 39,700 tonnes this season from 48,720 tonnes last season.

"It is mainly because of the problems farmers had with getting inputs, seed maize and fertiliser in particular, at the start of the growing season and also the disruptions that we have had on farms," he told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an agriculture conference.