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.