It does not take much

4 06 2009

There were 8 bags of maize (corn to the Americans) standing next to the shed. It was about 400kg belonging to Stan, one of my landlord’s labourers. Knowing that Tony, the landlord, kept immaculate records I asked him for the figures (he had cutlivated a number of plots for his labourers, supplied the seed, fertilizer and chemicals).

Each plot was 0.1 ha which would give a yield of 4t/ha which is about average for a commercial crop of rain fed maize though with a bit of attention it can go considerably higher.
Everything had cost $50
It would easily last Stan and his wife and child the year with a fair bit to spare (maize is the staple diet of Zimbabwe but is has a lower protein content than wheat so requires supplementation). 

Stan earns some $50 a month before overtime and does not pay income tax (this has not always been the case – the lowest tax bracket used to start at LESS than a dollar a day!).  Yes, he will have to pay the $50 back but considering that it will keep him going for a year it’s not a lot. But Stan is the exception in that he has a regular income. Some 80% of Zimbabweans are unemployed and most will require food assistance and the bulk of Zimbabwe’s estimated requirement of 1.8 million tonnes of maize for human consumption will have to be imported.



2 responses

7 06 2009
Big Blister

Hey, don’t your diligent readers get any credit for keeping you straight??

7 06 2009

I know, I know, thanks for that but I had to change the original so much that no-one would have known what I was talking about. There is going to be a part 2 which will correct everything! I was trying to say how simple it would be to feed the country which of course was wrong – it was never easy but having revised the maths I could not account for who’d grown it all in the past (each farmer would have had to have grown some 150ha but I never knew anyone who grew much more than 50 or so). Have been doing a bit of research and Hugh Holman pointed out that there were some VERY big farmers (Nicolls) who grew some 5000ha and skewed the average area somewhat. So, I’ll have to do a bit of digging around and get the facts (straighter). Found literature that indicates the USA (Iowa & Kansas) average about twice what we do here. Would I be correct in thinking it is due to day length?

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