The collapse of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector from the early 2000s is well documented, and largely attributed to ill-conceived land reform policies. But as the spirit of political change sweeps across the country, albeit with lingering economic underperformance, it is worth looking at what products Zimbabwe imports in large quantities and whether import substitution would be a possibility in the near to medium term. This would not only improve the country’s trade balance but also bring much-needed job opportunities. In 2016 Zimbabwe spent $1.04bn on agricultural and food imports, up 5% from the previous year. According to data from Trade Map, nearly a third of this import bill was due to maize, with soya bean oil and rice accounting for 12% and 11% of the overall import bill, respectively. The other notable products the country imported included wheat, milk, palm oil, sugar, animal and vegetable oils, pasta, bottled water and so on. In the case of rice, Zimbabwe’s reliance on impor...

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