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Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Agriculture Profile 2012

2012/04/06

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Zimbabwe Agriculture Profile 2012

Reference Date: 24-May-2011
 
 
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
  1. Increase in maize plantings support production growth for the 2010/11 maize crop
  2. Prices of maize increase seasonally, but remained steady during the first quarter of 2011 in the capital
  3. Food security remains generally stable, but localised production declines could affect areas in the south that experienced a dry-spell in early 2011

Increased maize plantings support production growth

Harvesting of the 2010/11 cereal crops is currently underway. The Government second round crop assessment indicates a large expansion in maize plantings estimated at about 2.1 million hectares, marking a 16 % increase compared with the previous season’s area. By contrast, the planted area of millet and sorghum fell by about 6 and 21 % respectively.
Rainfall patterns from October to January were generally favourable, supporting crop development, but was punctured by a period of heavy rains affecting low lying parts of Midlands, Mashonaland Central and both north and south Matabeleland provinces. This was followed by a dry-spell last February that mostly affected the low producing southern areas, particularly the late planted crops. Nationally about 88 % of the maize crop was planted by December 2010. During March and April, rains improved in northern regions, but water deficits continued in some southern and central areas, affecting maize production in Matabeleland South and parts of Midlands.
The national production estimates point to a larger maize harvest of 1.45 million tonnes, about 7 % above the 2010 output. However, both sorghum and millet production are estimated to be below last year’s level. The area planted with tobacco grew by nearly 50 % compared with the previous season, supporting an improvement in production. By contrast, cotton production is estimated to have fallen, on account of insufficient rains that lowered yields.
 
As in the previous year, farmers received support from the Government and the humanitarian community in the form of seed and fertilizer inputs distributed either directly or through a closed voucher scheme. In total an estimated 1.5 million households benefited from input assistance for the 2010/11 season.

Maize grain prices increase seasonally, but level off at the beginning of 2011

In Harare, maize prices, which increased seasonally during the last quarter of 2010, remained steady in the first three months of 2011 and in March 2011 were about 17 % higher than levels of last year. However, the national average price of maize in April 2011, based on the markets monitored by the Agriculture and Food Security Monitoring System (AFSMS), was at a similar level compared to the same month one year earlier.
 
Imports of maize continued as normal in the 2010/11 marketing year (April/March), and current estimates put the level of imports at about 233 000 tonnes, including informal cross border trade. For the current 2011/12 marketing year, import requirements for all cereals are anticipated to be at a similar level.

Improved availability of maize helps to stabilise food security

The overall food security situation remains stable, supported by the good availability of maize. Conditions are expected to improve as national supplies are augmented by the current harvest, enabling households to re-build food stocks. Based on sites monitored by the National Early Warning Unit (NEWU), consumption of own grain production has fallen, with households now more reliant on market supplies compared with March 2010. In areas where prices have been increasing and where households are constrained by limited income levels and low food stocks, access to staple food could be hindered. Furthermore, the dry spell that affected production in southern areas will negatively impact households’ ability to replenish their food stocks.

08/12/2010  Improved maize harvest, but millet and sorghum production decline for 2009/10 season

A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM), conducted in June 2010, concluded that national maize production in 2010 increased by 7 % over last season’s output, to 1.35 million tonnes. Despite unevenly distributed rains in southern and eastern areas, an extensive input programme contributed to the larger maize harvest, which supported a significant expansion in the maize area planted to an historical high of 1.8 million hectares. This represents a rise of 20 % over the previous year’s level and more than compensated for the lower yields recorded this year, due to the mid-season dry spell in December and January. The dry spell affected in particular Manicaland and Masvingo provinces where rainfall levels were approximately 50 % below the average (1996-2009) during the two aforementioned months.

In contrast to maize, millet and sorghum production fell by 16 and 15 % respectively, due to a contraction in the area planted and a reduction in yields but remained well above the previous five-year average.


Wheat production has fallen drastically since 2006, and this decline has continued in 2010 with an estimated production of 30 000 tonnes. The high cost of inputs, poor maintenance of irrigation facilities and erratic electricity supplies, are all considered to have contributed to the lower area planted and production levels. Cash crop production, such as cotton and groundnuts, also fell with the exception of tobacco. This decline is attributed to erratic rainfall and a decrease in area planted due to the lower prices offered to farmers last season.

For the 2010/11 agricultural season - planting is scheduled to begin in November - about 475 000 households have been targeted to receive seed and fertiliser assistance. On average the support should be sufficient to cover an area of 0.25 to 0.5 hectares per household.

Livestock conditions are reported to be fair to good for all classes of livestock across the country. However, the situation in Matabeleland South and Masvingo is of concern, where grazing is not likely to last up to the next rainy season.

Liberalised grain market improves food availability

Maize prices on the whole have declined and remain stable this year, with an average national price below USD 0.30/kg, as of July. In Harare, prices fell from February to May, conforming to annual seasonal trends, and remained stable into July at USD 0.23/kg.

The liberalization of the grain market has improved the availability of cereal products in the country and heightened the role of the commercial sector in meeting national cereal requirements. The Government parastatal, Grain Marketing Board (GMB), will continue to act as the buyer of last resort to maintain a floor price; however, limited financial liquidity and high overhead costs have constrained the institution’s operations.

Overall food security situation remains stable

The overall food security situation remains stable; however, based on sites monitored by the National Early Warning Unit (NEWU) consumption of own grain production in July was lower than in the previous year. This is attributed to a fall in production in areas affected by the mid-season dry spell

The CFSAM has estimated that approximately 1.68 million people will require food assistance in the 2010/11 marketing year (April March), with Manicaland and Masvingo projected to have the highest number of food insecure persons between January and March (peak lean season); these two provinces also experienced the largest drop in maize production relative to last season. The number of people in need of assistance includes both the transitory and chronically food insecure, and an estimated 111 000 tonnes of cereals is required to assist the affected population until the new harvest becomes available in March 2011.