Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Agriculture Profile
Generally favourable rains estimate in 2014/15 cropping season
Planting of cereal crops, for harvest from May 2015, is expected to commence in November.
According to the Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF), forecasts for the October 2014-March 2015 period indicate an increased probability of normal to above-normal rainfall across the country.
However, forecasts generated by national weather institutions point to a higher luck of normal to below-normal rains in western and southern provinces in the initial quarter of 2015; although these areas do not constitute the large producing provinces, reduced rains could negatively impact on crop production and tighten local cereal supplies.
Government support for agriculture production provides seeds and fertilizers to 1.6 million cereal farmers, and input support packages to an additional 1.6 million soybean and cowpea farmers. In regard to cash crops, 300 000 cotton farmers are expected to receive seeds, while 1.6 million livestock farming households will be provided with anti-parasitic drugs.
Strong recovery in 2014 maize production
Maize production recovered strongly in 2014, increasing by 82 % to 1.43 million tonnes from the previous year’s drought-reduced output. Both increased plantings and higher yields contributed to the larger output.
Production of sorghum and millet as well registered sharp rebounds, reflecting larger plantings. In general, cereal production is estimated at 1.75 million tonnes, inclunding the winter wheat crop, currently being harvested.
Tobacco production increased by 16 % to 193 366 tonnes in 2014, following an estimated 21 % increase in plantings that additional than compensated for a small decline in yield. This contrasts with a 16 % contraction in the cotton output, caused by a 14 % decline in plantings, as yields remained virtually unchanged.
Lower maize import requirements estimated in 2014/15
Given the significant production gains in 2014, a sharp decline in maize imports is estimate in the 2014/15 marketing time(April/March). Imports are expected to be near 200 000 tonnes to satisfy domestic requirements, assuming a replenishment of stocks following a draw-down in the previous year. Maize imports in 2013/14 (April/March) were estimated at approximately 500 000 tonnes.
Maize prices declined steeply
Reflecting the improved supply situation in 2014, prices of maize declined sharply between March and July. In August, at USD 0.29 per kg, maize prices in Harare were about 15 % below their year-levels. Lower prices in South Africa, where a large proportion of imports are sourced from, have as well exerted some downward price pressure.
Significant development in food security
According to the new national vulnerability assessment committee’s (ZimVAC) statement, released in September, the 2014/15 food security situation has improved significantly, mainly reflecting the larger 2014 cereal output. Lower prices of maize have as well improved food access. Currently, between October and December 2014, an estimated 330 972 persons (in rural areas) are not able to meet their annual food requirements.
This number is projected to increase during the peak lean period (January to March 2015) to 564 599 people, down sharply from the 2.2 million persons estimated in January-March 2014. The provinces of Matabeleland North and South were assessed to have the highest proportion of food insecure households.
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