FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

SPECIAL REPORT

FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO ZIMBABWE

29 May 2002

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1. OVERVIEW

Zimbabwe was hit by a severe drought during the 2002 main cereal growing season (January to March). This came on the heels of significantly reduced cereal production the previous year. In order to determine the impact of the drought and last year’s poor harvest on Zimbabwe’s food security, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited the country from 23 April to 11 May 2002 to estimate the 2001/02 production of the main cereal and pulse crops, forecast the 2002/03 winter crop production, review the overall food situation and determine food import requirements, including food assistance needs, for the next 12 months.

In Harare, the Mission held meetings with the FAO Sub-Regional Representative, WFP Country Director, UNDP Resident Coordinator, The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement (MLARR), as well as with the National Early Warning Unit (NEWU)/Agritex, Grain Marketing Board (GMB), FEWSNet, Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union (ICFU), Millers Association of Zimbabwe and a number of NGOs. The Mission also obtained estimates of area planted and crop production, prepared by the National Crop Forecasting Committee, and remote sensing data on rainfall, vegetation indices and various interim assessment reports.

For field visits the Mission was accompanied by observers from SADC’s Regional Early Warning Unit (REWU), USAID, FEWSNet, EC and Save the Children Fund-UK. It was assisted by specialists from MLARR and an FAO staff member from the country office. The Mission split into teams and was able to visit 24 districts in all eight provinces. Interviews were held with farmers, labourers, traders, NGOs, project workers and Government officials during field visits. Market surveys and livestock condition observations were conducted enroute and in the districts visited. GMB food distribution depots were inspected. Virtually no grain crops or stocks were found to inspect. Field assessments were also made regarding household food security, vulnerability, coping mechanisms and social welfare assistance programmes. Data and information received from secondary sources were reviewed in the light of data, information and insights obtained during field visits in arriving at the estimates made by the Mission. The crop production and vulnerability situation obtaining this year was compared with the previous year, as well as with 1991/92, the last most severe drought year.

Rainfall started early (in September 2001 in some areas) and was very favourable in all parts of the country until December 2001, which encouraged early and extensive plantings. But a dry spell began in January 2002 throughout the country (in late December in certain areas) and continued up to end March/early April, devastating virtually all crops. Only in a few small pockets, particularly in the north, small quantities of maize were harvested, mainly from early sown crops. Rainfall received in April in most parts of the country has only been helpful in improving grazing conditions and water availability for livestock.

The area planted to various grains in 2001/02 main season actually increased by about 9 percent compared to the previous year and area to maize by about 14 percent. The increased maize area reflects expansion in communal and resettled areas, as there was a reduction in the large-scale commercial sector due to land reform activities.

The Mission estimates a national cereal harvest of 669 000 tonnes in 2001/02 main cropping season for consumption in the marketing year 2002/03, of which maize accounts for 481 000 tonnes. These figures represent drastic reductions of 57 percent and 67 percent, respectively, compared to last year’s already significantly reduced production. Compared to 1991/92, when the main season outputs of all cereals and maize were, respectively, 463 000 tonnes and 361 000 tonnes, the 2001/02 harvests are actually 44 percent and 33 percent respectively higher. But food supply and food access conditions in 2002/03 are much worse compared to 1992/93, mainly because there are virtually no carryover maize stocks in 2002 compared to some 739 000 tonnes in 1992 (sufficient then to meet the national maize consumption requirement for about five months); the import capacity of the country is extremely low; and there is little donor interest at the present time.

Winter wheat which is being planted now is also forecast to fall sharply as it is almost exclusively grown on large-scale commercial farms. An output of 150 000 tonnes is forecast for 2002 compared to 250 000 tonnes last year and 276 000 tonnes average of the last five years. Winter maize is not expected to be of much significance. Based on the estimated main season cereal output and projected wheat production, the total cereal import requirement in 2002/03 (April/March) is estimated at 1.869 million tonnes, of which maize constitutes 1.705 million tonnes.

In view of steep reductions in tobacco and cotton production and export, the Government’s ability to import maize during 2002/03 is extremely limited, considering, in addition, competing claims to the available, extremely limited foreign exchange, by the critically needed import of fuel and electricity and the servicing of the external debt. With the Government import of 300 000 tonnes of maize and allowing for the 60 000 tonnes of pledged food aid, the gap remains a staggering 1.497 million tonnes of cereals, including 1.345 million tonnes of maize.

Livestock condition is generally good with adequate pastures and water availability throughout the country. But prices of livestock have already fallen significantly and will plummet as distress sales increase and demand dwindles. Other coping mechanisms are already much stressed; some may have already been exhausted. Thus, the food shortage is virtually universal throughout the country. Under the circumstances, targeting of any supplies that may be forthcoming is an extremely difficult task.

Some people may find money through various means (sale of livestock, remittances, cash for work, petty trade, gold mining/panning, etc.) to buy maize or maize meal, if available in the market at the current GMB price of about Z$900 per 50 kg bag. But maize is simply not available in the market in most areas, even at this harvest time. Some supplies are available in certain areas but at three to four times the GMB price. The crisis, therefore, looms large, and will seriously affect many more than the 3 million people indicated above as being the most vulnerable.

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2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SETTING1/

2.1 The general setting

Zimbabwe’s economic decline continues unabated. Available data show that the economy contracted by 4.2 percent in 2000 and by a further 8.6 percent in 2001. In view of the collapse of agricultural production in 2002, with the other sectors of the economy performing poorly in tandem, a further and larger contraction seems inevitable this year. Business closures and downsizing and consequent job losses have been rampant as indicated by a recent survey. With the population increasing, the decline in per capita income has been steeper than in the aggregate GDP.

A budget deficit for 2002 was originally set at 14.9 percent; but it may rise further due to a supplementary budget likely to be introduced providing additional funds to be raised for addressing the country’s food shortage. However, if money supply is increased, the prevailing inflation, which is already running at 113 percent as of March 2002 on a year-on-year basis, may be further accelerated with consequent adverse impact on people’s already precarious livelihoods. The Government’s ability to import food grains is extremely limited, given that foreign exchange earnings from tobacco, gold and cotton are steeply reduced and there are competing claims from critically needed imports of fuel and electricity for the foreign exchange available. The foreign exchange reserve in 2001 was a meagre US$65 million, which is sufficient for about half a month’s imports, even when the reduced import level of that year is considered. The situation is likely to have worsened since then, given the declining exports and sanctions applied by the USA and EC.

There is also a serious anomaly in the currency exchange rate. While the officially fixed rate is Z$55 to US$1, the parallel market rate as of early May 2002 was around Z$330. Clearly this is exacerbating the problem of hard currency shortages of the Government as much of the incoming foreign currency finds its way into the parallel market. In 200, the external debt was US$4.37 billion according to official data, about 68 percent of the GDP. The debt service ratio was 25 percent of the export earnings in that year. Available data from different sources suggest that the external debt outstanding may have risen to over US$5 billion since 2000, becoming a larger proportion of the significantly reduced GDP. As of December 2001, Government’s domestic debt also stood at a high level of Z$194 billion, about 38 percent of the GDP. The domestic debt is also likely to have increased further since then. These high levels of external and internal debt spell serious difficulties for macroeconomic management.

The nature and extent of the food crisis faced this year can be gauged from the fact that, at the harvest time, most people are without food and, in most areas little or no maize is available in the market. Whatever little maize or maize meal is available in certain areas is priced at 3 to 4 times the GMB maize price of about Z$900 per 50 kg bag. It is possible that certain groups of people may be able to mobilize some money through sale of livestock, petty trading, remittances from relatives working in cities or abroad, gold mining/panning, etc., but most of them will be unable to access adequate food at the high prices prevailing already now. A large proportion of the population cannot access funds to even partially meet their food needs. The GMB can meet only a small fraction of the nation’s food needs. That too, is irregularly supplied. It has been reported that while the daily national maize need is about 5 000 tonnes, GMB can currently supply only about 400 tonnes. The food outlook is simply bleak.

High and increasing unemployment combined with high and increasing cost of living over the past few years and particularly in recent months has caused the poverty situation to worsen to extreme levels. Even before this year’s severe crop failure, 75 percent of the population were classified as poor, and 42 percent as very poor. The situation at the present time, is certainly much worse following the collapse of food production. The poor include the rural population of farmers, petty traders and farm workers, as well as urban unemployed and informal sector operators.

2.2 Agriculture in the national economy

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy. It provides over half of the country’s total employment and contributes about 15 percent to the Gross Domestic Product. It generates about 40 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and provides the bulk of raw materials to the manufacturing sector.

Zimbabwe’s land is divided into five natural regions on the basis of soil type and climatic factors. Natural regions 1, 2 and 3 are suitable for intensive crop cultivation and livestock raising, while regions 4 and 5 offer limited scope for agriculture. The bulk of Mashonaland (West, East and Central), Midlands and Manicaland provinces are under regions 1, 2 and 3, while Matebeleland (North and South) and Masvingo provinces are under natural regions 4 and 5.

Zimbabwe’s farming sector can and has in the past produced exportable surpluses of maize and certain other food crops.

2.3 The Land Reform Programme

At the time of Independence in 1980, land distribution was as follows:

Sector Million hectares Percentage
Large-scale commercial 15.5 39.1
Small-scale commercial 1.4 3.5
Communal 16.4 41.4
National parks and urban 6.0 15.2
State land 0.3 0.8
All 39.6 100.0

 

The large-scale commercial farms were owned by white farmers, who constituted less than one percent of the country’s population. A land reform programme was initiated following independence to increase the access of the indigenous people to land. The first phase covered the period 1980 to 1998, during which 3.5 million hectares of large-scale commercial farm land were acquired and 71 000 indigenous families were resettled. The second phase was initiated in 1998, but only 0.17 million ha were acquired and 4 697 families were resettled. In July 2000, the “Fast Track” resettlement phase was launched to speed up land acquisition and resettlement. A law was enacted for the purpose, with compulsory acquisition and resettlement being the key focus.

Data provided by CFU show that from the beginning of the Fast Track in July 2000, until 17 April 2002, a total of 5 069 out of about 6 000 commercial farms have been issued with notices. Out of the farms under notice, about 2 000 have been issued with acquisition orders, requiring the farmer to cease all operations and to leave the property within three months.

Data provided by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Local Government indicate that over 114 000 households had been resettled as of 5 March 2002. Aside from the official process, there have also been informal farm invasions, which have occurred regardless of the legal status of those farms under the land reform programme. According to a Ministry of Local Government estimate, over 14 000 settler families were informally resident on commercial farms as of 5 March 2002.

These activities and processes have disrupted farming activities and contributed to the fall in maize and wheat production.

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3. FOOD PRODUCTION IN 2001/02

Rainfall

The 2001/02 rainfall season was generally poor for agricultural production. It has been characterized by two opposite extremes. The first half of the season (October to December) was excessively wet, particularly in the southern areas of the country. The second half (January to April) has been marked by the longest dry spell in the last twenty years. This dry spell began from the end of December for most areas in the southern districts. The largest rainfall deficits for the period January to March were in the Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland South, Mashonaland East, Manicaland and south of Mashonaland West provinces.

During the first half (October to December), substantial rains were received throughout the country. More than three quarters of the country received more than 80 percent of their long term mean rainfall. Areas to the South of the country such as Zvishavane, Masvingo, Gutu and Lowveld received above average rainfall with some areas recording an excess of up to 400mm of their long term mean for this period. However, areas to the east of Harare stretching through Mazowe up to Nyanga, Kariba and the surrounding areas received below average rainfall during the same period. Most areas to the north received rainfall in the average range. The Mazowe area and parts of Gwaai area also received above average rainfall. Cumulative rainfall for Matebeleland South was considerably above normal.

The second half of the season (January to March) was dominated by a severe dry and very hot spell, although some isolated thundershowers were experienced in the extreme northern areas. This dry spell began from end December for most areas in the southern districts. Some areas in these districts (Gweru, Beitbridge, Bulawayo, etc.) received virtually no rain from January to March 2002. Most areas along and to the south of the main watershed received less than 30 percent of their long term mean for the period January and February. Areas to the extreme north (parts of Gwaai, Makonde, Mazowe, etc.) received slightly more than 75 percent of their long-term mean. Rainfall below 75 percent of the long-term mean for a prolonged period usually indicates meteorological drought. An analysis of the January to March dry spell for the past twenty years indicates that this year’s dry spell was not only the longest in the past 20 years, but also ranks fifth in drought severity since 1900: 1991/92, 1946/47, 1972/73, 1921/22 and 2001/02. This analysis has been carried out using a few selected stations in the eight provinces of Zimbabwe. Cumulative rainfall for the same period indicates that the majority of the country received less than 40 percent of normal rainfall. Under normal climatic conditions in Zimbabwe, January and February are the peak season in terms of rainfall, but this season has been a complete departure from normal with January to February being dry over the whole country. However, Zimbabwe was not the only country that was affected by the January to March dry spell. Other SADC countries such as Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia were also affected.

In the previous season (2000/01), which had a relatively long dry spell during the last part of December and the whole of January, at least the late planted crops recovered when rains resumed. The 2001/02 season, on the other hand, suffered three consecutive dry months, resulting in total failure of most crops. Even though cumulative rainfall for Masvingo was above normal, little or no rain was received from January to March 2002.

Substantial rains were received in April in most parts of the country, but they came too late to resuscitate the food crops. However, these late rains have had the effect of revitalizing grass growth and thus the condition of grazing for livestock is favourable.

Inputs

Use of credit by the smallholder sector for the purchase of inputs is generally very limited. GMB provided seeds and fertilizers under an input credit scheme, but this scheme was often criticised for being late or for delivering wrong inputs. This resulted in some inputs not being used at all. Many maize crops did not receive a basal fertilizer dressing and this adversely affected potential root growth and retarded the early development of the crop, rendering it vulnerable to the drought. Traders reported some difficulty in obtaining sufficient seed and fertilizers.

The major maize seed supplier, Seedco, reported that theft of maize cobs from fields and lower yields due to the drought have considerably reduced the seed harvest. In normal years this company produces considerable quantities of seed for export but the total output will be reduced considerably this year, giving rise to the possibility of seed shortages for the coming season. Substantial amounts of dressed seed, held over since last year, were seen by the Mission in various trader outlets. Although the germination percentage may be reduced substantially, this seed could be utilized, following a germination test, in the event of shortages during the 2002/03 planting season.

Wheat plantings now underway are anticipated by the CFU to be at most 20 000 hectares, against 45 455 hectares in 2001. As up to 60 percent of the installed irrigation capacity is out of service and it would take many months to re-install it, the potential wheat plantings are considerably reduced. The Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union indicated that its members would be planting wheat this year, but credit for inputs and availability of irrigation were listed as constraints. The Resettlement areas also produce some wheat, but have little economy of scale and access to irrigation is reduced.

The use of Compound D (7N-14P-7K) basal fertiliser and Ammonium Nitrate (34.5 percent N) for top dressing, which are the two main types used for maize, varies significantly among provinces based on the rainfall conditions. Fertiliser use in the northern provinces is generally much higher than in the south, because of better rainfall distribution compared to the southern and eastern provinces where the conditions are generally drier with erratic rainfall. The GMB Inputs Distribution Scheme was widely criticised by farmers for not supplying inputs on time, forcing them to plant without basal fertilizer, with resulting poor root growth and susceptibility to drought.

Sources in the fertilizer industry reported that the national fertilizer supply for the coming season will be 584 000 tonnes. The Mission learnt, however, that price control is still in force on seed and fertilizer and suppliers cannot sell at the controlled price regarded as too low. If price control is still in force at the planting time in October/November, the amount of fertilizer that will be sold will be sharply reduced. If, on the other hand, price controls are lifted, then the industry will be able to supply the necessary fertilizer. However, many farmers have been rendered destitute by the poor outcome of the 2002 harvest and will not have the cash or the credit to buy hybrid seed or fertilizer.

Pests and diseases

The drought in 2002 was so devastating that pest and disease influence on yield was minimal. Stalk borers were reported to have damaged crops in Mashonaland West. The groundnut crop was so badly affected by drought that no harvest was produced.

Quelea quelea birds were reported to have damaged sorghum and millet crops all over the country. Cob rot was reduced this year due to the dry conditions, though this disease was seen on some mountain farms in Chimanimani on steep mountain slopes and which received more than adequate rainfall.

Area planted

The total area under grain crops in the 2001/02 crop season is estimated at 1 620 542 hectares, of which 1 395 371 ha, or 86 percent, was under maize. Total maize area increased by 172 271 ha, or 14 percent compared to the previous year. This increase was mainly in the resettlement area, with an estimated 8 percent increase in the communal areas. The area of maize planted by large scale commercial farmers declined again from 74 000 ha in 2001 to an estimated 61 800 ha. This is 62 percent below the area planted by large scale farmers in 1999/2000 season. The area of maize planted by small scale commercial farmers remained at 65 220 ha, while there was a doubling of area in resettlement farms from 100 000 ha to 204 693 ha. Given the vastly greater yield potential, about 5:1 in most years, of the large scale commercial sector, the decrease in the area planted in this sector, had a significant adverse impact on food production (Table 1). A further important factor was the lack of a guaranteed, economic pre-planting price for maize. Farmers were reluctant to commit themselves to producing a crop for which there had been a low return in the previous year. Late payment by GMB for maize deliveries in the previous season also adversely affected maize area. Late deliveries of seed and fertilizer under the GMB inputs distribution scheme for resettlement and communal farming areas also reduced potential planted area as many farmers depended on this scheme for their inputs.

The area planted to sorghum and pearl millet decreased by 23 percent and 29 percent, respectively, while the area under finger millet increased by 23 percent to 70 347 ha. Nationally, the area planted to cereals, pulses, oilseeds and cash crops in 2001/02, is estimated at 2 479 million hectares, an increase of about 4.8 percent compared to the previous year, but this masks a decline of 28.9 percent in the cropped area in the large scale commercial sector. Cotton, soyabean and tobacco area in the large-scale commercial sector decreased by 66 percent, 43 percent and 15 percent, respectively, while in the smallholder sector, production of these cash crops increased by 7, 75 and 92 percent, respectively. These are all major foreign exchange earners for the country. The by-products of cotton and soyabean, cottonseed and soyabean cake, are important ingredients in the animal feed industry.

Yields

This year, average maize yield in the predominantly smallholder sector is expected to be around 0.25 tonnes/hectare and in the large scale commercial farming sector around 2.4 tonnes/hectare. These yields have been calculated from the estimates provided by the AGRITEX district/provincial staff and the National Early Warning Unit of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement. They were cross-checked with historical data, key respondent information and field observations. Information was also gathered on yields from the Commercial Farmers Union and from the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union. Maize yields are drastically reduced in both the commercial and smallholder sectors, by 54 percent and 73 percent, respectively. The overall average yield of maize is 0.34 tonnes/hectare, which is 72 percent down on the previous year. Yields of the other cereal crops are also reduced, at 0.11 tonnes/hectare for sorghum; 0.11 tonnes/hectare for pearl millet and 0.06 tonnes/hectare for finger millet, reflecting severe drought conditions in the drier parts of the country where these crops are mainly grown. On commercial farms, 3 tonnes/hectare was obtained from sorghum crops, but only an estimated 5 000 hectares was planted.

Cereal production forecast for 2001/02

Zimbabwe has two cropping seasons, the main one which provides the main harvest, usually starting in October-November and ending in April-May, while the second one called the winter season, is dependent on irrigation and is almost wholly farmed by the commercial sector. The main crops, wheat and barley, are planted in April-May and harvested in September-October. This year, however, over 60 percent of the installed irrigation capacity is not available and cannot be easily re-instated in time for the crops of wheat and barley, both of which must be planted by mid-May. The Mission has therefore sharply reduced estimates of expected area and production for wheat to 37 500 hectares and 150 000 tonnes, respectively. Considerable efforts are being made by the Government to increase smallholder wheat production. Average expected yields have been reduced to take into account the relative inexperience of smallholders with this crop.

Areas planted to barley, which competes for land with wheat and which is mainly used as a raw material in the brewing industry is estimated at 3 000 hectares, producing 16 500 tonnes.

The possibility of producing maize in the winter season during the fallow period on sugar estates is being actively investigated by the Government. However, it is not likely to make a significant contribution to food supply due to the likelihood of infestation by pests and diseases which attack both maize and sugar cane.

3.1 Main season crop production

Table 1 shows a national cereal harvest of 0.52 million tonnes in 2001/02 main cropping season. This is 76 percent lower than the 2.15 million tonnes produced in 1999/00 and 73 percent less than the 1.9 million tonnes average of the last ten years.

Maize production this season is estimated at 0.48 million tonnes or 92.7 percent of the total main season grain production. Maize area on commercial farms dropped from 74 000 hectares to 62 000 hectares, of which 15 000 hectares was yellow maize, normally destined for use in animal feed. Yields on commercial farms declined from 5.19 tonnes/hectares in 2001 to 2.4 tonnes/hectares this year, due to drought and disruption.

Yields on communal areas and on resettlement farms were greatly reduced by the drought, lack of inputs at normal planting time, labour constraints, shortage of draught power, and inadequate experience of newly-resettled farmers. Other factors responsible for the disastrous harvest included late planting caused by late delivery of seed and fertilizer by the GMB Credit Scheme and competition for labour with cash crops such as cotton.

Table 1. Zimbabwe : Area and production of cereals, pulses and cash crops in 2001/02 main cropping season compared to 2000/01

CROP/SECTOR 2001/02 MAIN CROPPING 2000/01 MAIN CROPPING 2001/02 Vs.2000/01
Area (ha) Production
(tonnes)
Area (ha) Production
(tonnes)
% Change in
Area
% Change in
Production
MAIZE            
COMMERCIAL SECTOR 1/ 61 800 148 320 74 005 384 316 -16.5 -61.4
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 2/ 1 333 571 332 118 1 149 061 1 082 432 16.1 -69.3
TOTAL MAIZE 1 395 371 480 438 1 223 066 1 466 748 14.1 -67.2
SORGHUM 3/            
COMMERCIAL SECTOR 5 000 15 000 5 300 18 550 -5.7 19.1
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 80 070 9 187 105 000 42 190 -23.7 -78.2
TOTAL SORGHUM 85 070 24 187 110 300 60 740 -22.9 -60.1
PEARL MILLET            
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 69 754 3 912 98 870 2 0151 -29.4 -61.2
FINGER MILLET            
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 70 347 10 736 57 200 22 880 23.0 -53.1
ALL CEREAL GRAINS 1 620 542 518 912 1 489 436 1 570 519 8.8 -67.0
SOYBEANS            
COMMERCIAL SECTOR 37 000 74 000 65 000 162 500 -43.1 -54.5
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 21 229 9 139 12 150 12 580 74.7 -27.4
TOTAL SOYBEANS 58 229 83 139 77 150 175 080 -24.5 -52.5
GROUNDNUTS (Unshelled)            
COMMERCIAL SECTOR 1 000 1 800 2 000 5 000 -50.0 -64.0
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 270 163 58 857 274 120 166 784 -1.4 -64.7
TOTAL GROUNDNUTS 271 163 60 657 276 120 171 784 -1.8 -64.7
SUNFLOWER            
COMMERCIAL SECTOR 1 800 3 600 2 000 2 000 -10.0 80.0
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 24 378 4 067 42 500 29 500 -42.6 -86.2
TOTAL SUNFLOWER 26 178 7 667 44 500 31 500 -41.2 -75.7
PAPRIKA            
COMMERCIAL SECTOR 3 000 9 000 3 250 11 375 -7.7 -26.4
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 13 179 3 984 4 985 1 414 164.4 181.8
TOTAL PAPRIKA 16 179 12 984 8 235 12 789 96.5 1.5
TOBACCO            
COMMERCIAL SECTOR 56 700 162 100 67 112 187 064 -15.5 -13.3
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 23 819 16 306 12 395 8 841 92.2 84.4
TOTAL TOBACCO 80 519 174 000 79 507 195 905 1.3 -8.9
COTTON            
COMMERCIAL SECTOR 5 800 12 000 17 000 32 666 -65.9 -63.3
SMALLHOLDER SECTOR 400 121 188 417 373 473 253 447 7.1 -25.7
TOTAL COTTON 405 921 200 417 390 473 286 113 5.6 -30.0
GRAND TOTAL 2 478 721   2 365 421   4.8  

1/ Commercial sector includes large scale commercial farmers.
2/ Smallholder sector includes communal farmers, small scale commercial farmers and resettled farmers.
3/ For crops other than maize, no district-wise data for all sectors was made available hence the national level estimates  prepared by MLARR and the Crop Forecasting Committee are judged as reasonable and are used in this report by the  Mission.

Regarding cash crops, cotton production is expected to be reduced by 30 percent, while Virginia tobacco production, at an estimated 174 000 tonnes is reduced by 11.2 percent below last year’s Mission estimate.

3.2 Winter season crop production

Wheat production reached a record 324 430 tonnes in 1999 season from a planted area of 57 574 hectares. This year, however, great uncertainty still surrounds the wheat area on large scale commercial farms. Last minute efforts by the Government to increase plantings on commercial farms were reported and the area planted is now expected to exceed the previous estimate of 20 000 hectares. Assuming the Government’s efforts to raise wheat areas on smallholder and resettled farms are successful, the wheat harvest could be as high as 150 000 tonnes, though this figure may need to be revised later in the season. The Mission estimates that up to 37 500 hectares will be planted this year, including plantings by smallholders on resettled farms. With an average yield of 4 tonnes/hectare, total harvest is forecast at 150 000 tonnes, a decrease of 40 percent compared to last year.

3.3 Livestock

According to the 2000 Livestock Census, the total number of various livestock in the country is as follows: cattle: 6 186 312; sheep: 690 643; goats: 3 803 589; pigs: 339 977; donkeys: 424 123; and horses; 8 952. Due to considerable late rains, pastures and water availability are generally good in most provinces, but in the Lutumba area of Masvingo and in Buhera, grazing is not expected to last beyond August. Substantial and widespread late rains late in March and April gave an unexpected boost to grazing lands and this has ensured that livestock are in good condition. Large scale de-stocking was reported by the commercial sector, with beef cattle numbers declining from 500 000 in March 1999 to an estimated 282 000 now. These high quality livestock will be difficult to replace quickly and this will have profound effects on exports of meat, which have been buoyant in recent years.

Dairy cow numbers declined by 22 percent between 1995 and 1999 and have continued to decline due to disturbances on farms, and as a result the availability of milk has declined sharply.

Table 2. Zimbabwe: Wheat and barley area, yield and production for 1991-2001 and forecast for 2002

  Wheat Barley
Area (ha) Yield (t/ha) Production (tonnes) Area (ha) Yield (t/ha) Production (tonnes)
1991 44 000 5.9 259 320 5 605 5.6 31 600
1992 11 180 5.1 56 920 1 136 4.3 4 900
1993 48 000 5.8 277 109 6 400 5.2 33 102
1994 52 647 5.5 287 904 5 650 5.8 33 000
1995 13 860 5.1 70 000 2 355 5.3 12 500
1996 47 843 5.5 263 134 5 300 5.7 30 000
1997 55 200 4.5 250 000 10 700 4.3 45 500
1998 50 000 6.0 300 000 9 879 5.8 57 234
1999 57 574 5.6 324 430 3 079 5.4 16 671
2000 46 375 5.5 255 063 5 128 6.2 32 200
2001 45 455 5.5 250 000 4 545 5.5 25 000
2002 37 500 4.0 150 000 3 000 5.5 16 500

Source: Zimbabwe Cereals Producers Association; 2001 forecast by the Mission.

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4. PRODUCTION SITUATION BY PROVINCE

As noted earlier, the rains began well and in fact water-logging was widely experienced early in the season, delaying planting operations in many areas. In normal years, a dry spell occurs in January, but this year, over virtually the whole country, the rains stopped in late December and did not appear again until late March. This extended drought had a devastating effect on crops, especially those which had been sown late in November/December and which had not developed a good root system before the onset of the drought.

The land reform programme affected mainly the higher potential areas in the northwest quarter of the country, particularly the provinces of Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Manicaland.

Table 3. Zimbabwe: Maize Production Estimates by Province in 2001/02 Main Cropping Season (tonnes)

Province Smallholder
production
2001/02
Smallholder
production
2000/01
Percentage change
in production
Manicaland 41 354 161 684 -74.4
Mashonaland Central 84 649 220 211 -61.6
Mashonaland East 47 369 248 740 -81.0
Mashonaland West 81 964 188 045 -56.4
Masvingo 21 279 111 119 -80.9
Matabeleland North 3 189 63 486 -95.0
Matabeleland South 234 10 034 -97.7
Midlands 52 080 79 112 -34.2
National Smallholder Total 332 118 1 082 432 -69.3
National Commercial Total 148 320 384 316 -61.4
Overall National Total 480 438 1 466 748 -67.2

4.1 Mashonaland West

This province has historically produced the biggest crops of maize and tobacco, having as it does, a high proportion of land in Agro-ecological Region II (intensive farming). The land reform programme was implemented on many large commercial farms for the first time and this caused serious disruption of normal farming practices. Large areas were as a result left fallow, causing a steep reduction in production. All areas of the province were hit by the drought from December and only those farmers who had planted early obtained any crop. The districts of Zvimba, Chegutu, Kariba and Kadoma suffered almost complete crop failure, while crops in the district of Hurungwe were less than a quarter of normal production. Total maize production in Mashonaland West is estimated at 81 964 tonnes, compared to 188 045 tonnes in the previous year.

4.2 Mashonaland Central Province

Mashonaland Central has large areas of good crop land especially in the districts of Mazowe, Bindura and Guruve. This year crops were hit hard by the drought in December and yields, especially in communal areas and resettlement farms, were reduced by more than 75 percent in many cases. In Rushinga, farmers planted cotton before planting maize and the maize crop was destroyed in its early stages, leaving many families with no harvest at all. Maize production is estimated at 84 649 tonnes, compared to 220 211 tonnes in the previous year.

4.3 Mashonaland East

The effects of the drought were especially harsh in the districts of Seke and Chikomba, where virtually all crops were lost. Farmers in Murehwa also suffered widespread crop failure, but here the effect of early planting was seen, whereby Agritex staff who had been allocated farms were able to harvest relatively good crops through early planting and by using basal fertilizer dressings and the recommended top dressing while the rains lasted. This was sufficient to carry the crop through to maturity. Maize production is estimated at 47 369 tonnes, compared to 248 740 tonnes in 2001, including 45 000 tonnes from large scale commercial farmers in 2001.

4.4 Manicaland

Manicaland has considerable mountain areas and also good land in agro-ecological regions I, III and V. Crops in western parts of the district of Chimanimani and the whole of Buhera District were destroyed by the drought and farmers have virtually no food left from the harvest. Production of maize is estimated at 41 354 tonnes, reduced substantially from the 161 684 tonnes estimated in the previous year.

4.5 Masvingo Province

This province mainly in agro-ecological region V and most of the land is suitable only for livestock grazing and extensive farming. This year, along with the rest of the country, heavy rains fell during November and early December and crops got off to a good start, but then they were destroyed by the drought. As a result, the Mission estimates total maize production at 21 279 tonnes, compared to an estimated 111 119 tonnes in the previous year. Most farmers harvested nothing at all and so are dependent on their livestock for their survival.

4.6 Matabeleland North Province

Matabeleland North is a predominantly dry-land area most of which is in agro-ecological zone V (extensive farming). The rains normally begin in mid-November and last until March. This year the rains began about two weeks late, in early December, and then there was a drought which lasted for over three months and virtually all crops were lost. Early planted crops reached tassel ling stage, but most were destroyed before they reached this stage. Only about 1 280 small farmers with access to irrigation were able to grow some maize. Maize production is estimated at 3 189 tonnes as against a total of 63 486 tonnes in the previous year. Drought resistant crops such as sorghum and pearl millet were also destroyed by the drought, including commercial seed plots, leaving no stocks of sorghum or millet seed for the 2002/03 crop season.

4.7 Matabeleland South Province

Maize production in Matabeleland South is estimated at only 234 tonnes, compared to 10 034 tonnes in 2001, indicating the extent of the drought. Livestock raising is the main activity in this province and thanks to the unusual rains in April, grazing and browse is in better condition than normal. This province is always a net importer of maize, but this year, due to overall national shortages, the normal maize for cattle trade is not available.

4.8 Midlands Province

Maize is the main crop in Midlands Province, with cotton and groundnuts also important. In 2002, maize production in Midlands province dropped from 79 112 tonnes in 2001 to 52 080 tonnes. Unlike in other provinces, some rains were recorded in Gokwe North District, with 55 mm in January and 55.5 mm in February and this probably accounts for the relatively better crops in Midlands Province.

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5. CEREAL SUPPLY/DEMAND SITUATION, 2002/03 (APRIL/MARCH)

A food surplus country until recently, Zimbabwe faces a food crisis this year, even at harvest time, because cereal production has collapsed and there are no stocks carried over from last year’s poor cereal harvest. This year’s agricultural collapse has been largely due to the prolonged drought, but the disruptive land reform activities have also contributed significantly to the production shortfall. The food production crisis is compounded by the Government’s extremely limited ability to import foodgrains, and severely stressed or exhausted coping mechanisms for a large part of the population.

Zimbabwe’s cereal supply/demand balance sheet for the 2002/03 marketing year (April/March) is shown in Table 4 and is based on the cereal production estimates shown in Table 1 and the following assumptions:

Table 4. Zimbabwe: Cereal Supply/Demand Balance, April 2002/March 2003 (‘000 tonnes) 1/

  Maize Millet &
Sorghum
Wheat Rice All Cereals
Domestic Availability 483 39 315 1 838
Opening stocks 2 1 165 - 168
Production 481 38 150 1 670
Utilization 2 188 39 467 13 2 707
Food use 1 600 173 387 13 2 173
Feed use 250 - - - 250
Seed use and losses 50 4 10 - 64
Cross commodity substitution 138 (138) - - -
Closing stocks 150 - 70 - 220
Import Requirements 1 705 - 152 12 1 869
Anticipated commercial imports 300 - - 12 312
Food aid pledges 60 - - - 60
Deficit 1 345 - 152 - 1 497

1/ Barley production is not included in this food balance sheet since most of it is used for commercial brewing purposes.
- Negligible or none.

The total cereal import requirement in 2002/03 is estimated at 1.869 million tonnes (69 percent of the total cereal requirement) and that of maize, the main staple, at 1.705 million tonnes (78 percent of the total maize requirement). Taking into account the anticipated cereal imports of 300 000 tonnes and food aid pledges of 60 000 tonnes, the deficit is estimated at 1.497 million tonnes (55 percent of the total cereal requirement) for all cereals and 1.345 million tonnes for maize. The situation is desperate, even at the harvest time. It affects most of the people throughout the country. The situation will turn into a grave crisis in the next few months with tragic consequences, unless the emergency is addressed urgently and adequately. A further constraint on securing foodgrain supplies quickly within the sub-region is the increased maize import demand from Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland which have also had poor harvests this year.

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6. EMERGENCY FOOD REQUIREMENTS

6.1 Recent developments affecting vulnerability levels

Current levels of food insecurity in Zimbabwe are the result of a continuing and substantial deterioration in the macro-economy of the country over the 1990s, recent climatic factors, a broad disruption in the patterns of national food production due to ‘fast track’ land reform activities, and more recent events of civil disturbance. The worst-affected by these factors have been vulnerable rural populations in chronically food-deficit areas in the south, west and extreme north of the country, the urban poor who are entirely dependent on the market to meet their food needs, and commercial farm worker families.

Following a reduced 2001 harvest, the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission of May 2001 identified the need to import 447 000 tonnes of maize for the April 2001 to March 2002 marketing year, to meet consumption requirements and to maintain basic food reserves in case of another reduced harvest in 2002. Because of an extreme shortage of foreign exchange, only 80 000 tonnes of maize were actually imported during that year. In October 2001, the Government of Zimbabwe launched an appeal for food assistance for vulnerable communal-sector populations in the south, west and north of the country. In support of this appeal, a WFP Emergency Operation was approved in December 2001 for the provision of 117 000 tonnes of maize and other food commodities to meet the needs of 558 000 affected rural populations for 12 months. Distributions to affected populations are underway in all affected districts. While this operation was underway, Government’s inability to import the required quantities of maize has led to a current rationing of available supplies in most of the country, and to the virtual exhaustion of reserve stocks by the end of the 2001/02 marketing year on 31 March 2002.

Prospects for a recovery in food production this year have been dashed by a severe drought in January and February of 2002 that devastated food and cash crops for this year’s harvest, and by continuing disruptions in production caused by the implementation of the land reform programme.

6.2 Government policies and actions regarding food insecurity

The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) has been aware for several months of the deteriorating food and agriculture situation in the country and has taken several measures to cope with the situation. The Inter-Ministerial Committee of Ministers on Drought and Social Protection has been meeting regularly in recent months to review the situation and to make presentations to Cabinet to support requests for supplementary funding. The GOZ has also defined a maize import program for 2002/03, and opened GMB selling points in all districts to facilitate access to food at Government-controlled prices to a part of the affected population in rural areas.

On 26 April 2002, the President of Zimbabwe declared a State of Disaster in all communal lands, resettlement and urban areas as a result of the drought. This declaration allows extraordinary measures to be taken to assist populations affected and invites donors and international relief agencies to jointly plan emergency assistance programs. In the declaration, the GOZ estimated the number of affected people in rural and urban areas to be 7.8 million, or over 50 percent of the total population of the country. At the time of the FAO/WFP Mission’s visit, the Government was finalizing plans for a ZW$ 95 billion programme to fund maize imports through the Grain Marketing Board, a Drought Relief Food Aid Programme, child supplementary feeding schemes, and inputs for increased crop production during the winter.

The Drought Relief Food Aid Programme is intended to implement a social safety net to vulnerable households by providing a monthly cash payment of ZW $ 500 per person/month for the destitute elderly, the chronically ill, and the disabled. Other affected populations are eligible to participate in a Public Works Programme (PWP) providing labour for development projects. The PWP is implemented both in rural and urban areas, and beneficiaries are identified by Local Authorities on the basis of their vulnerability and food shortages. Under the PWP, an individual can work for a maximum of 5 days in a month at a daily rate of Z$200, and heads of households with dependents can work for an additional 5 days for each dependent for a maximum of 20 days per household in any one month.

A large majority of households interviewed in the field by the Mission indicated that they were enrolled in the PWP, but had received payments only once, or very irregularly, and that the last payments were several months ago. In many cases it was clear that these payments would have been an important source of cash and food purchase for these families. Overall, these income transfer programmes appear grossly under-funded when compared to the needs of the affected populations they are intended to serve

At the time of the Mission’s visit, the Government was also planning to re-introduce the Child Supplementary Feeding Programme (CSFP) for children under five, and under-14 school-going children, to prevent an increase of malnutrition in the food deficit areas. Government estimates that about 5.4 million of these children will require food assistance in 2002/03. To assist in the implementation of CSFP activities, a joint Government/UNICEF nutritional status assessment of children was underway during the Mission’s visit.

During its field visits, the Mission visited GMB depots and selling points and a considerable number of households to obtain first hand impressions of the efficacy of Government programmes to alleviate food shortages. The Mission found that only minimal supplies of maize were made available to district populations at the Government-controlled price. In the north, some bags of maize were reported to the Mission to be available for sale at around twice the official GMB price (ZW$ 875/50kg. bag). In the south and southwest parts of the country, maize was not seen in any market, and prices for the small quantities reported to be available were up to 4 times the GMB price.

In most GMB depots and selling points, maize stocks were minimal or exhausted, and no information was available if and when new supplies would arrive. To avoid long queues, GMB had stopped for some time the direct sales from depots, and was selling almost exclusively through Ward counsellors. At the village level the Counsellor reportedly collects money from villagers, buys the maize from GMB, and then delivers the quantities he is able to purchase on a pro rata basis to the households. The Mission could not ascertain if all households in need received something through this system.

Overall, the inadequacy of food supplies from their own production or GMB has forced many households to reduce the number of meals consumed each day and to resort to other foods, including bread, which was found to still be available in local shops at a much higher price than maize. The Mission was informed by GMB in Harare that against the need of 5 000 tonnes of maize a day to meet national needs, it was able to distribute only 2 000 tonnes a day, and sometimes only 400 tonnes a day.

6.3 Vulnerability and coping mechanisms

Sources of livelihood

About 70 percent of the Zimbabwe’s 13-14 million people live in rural areas. Prior to 2000, 51 percent of the population lived in the communal areas, 11 percent on commercial farms, 4.1 percent in resettlement areas and 1.6 on small-scale commercial land. In 2001 the Government passed the Land Acquisition Act with the aim of decongesting the communal areas by resettling the population from communal areas into commercial areas. The passing of the land reform followed by its rapid implementation, under “fast track land redistribution”, is changing the distribution of the population within these sectors. Between June 2000 and March 2002 about 129 187 households were resettled from communal areas into the commercial farms.

Livelihood Patterns in the Communal and Resettlement sectors

The livelihood pattern of a particular Communal or Resettlement area is determined by the agro-ecological zone it is found in. In Regions I, II and III, which are fairly fertile and have high rainfall, crop production is the major livelihood. In Regions IV and V, which receive low and erratic rainfall and are found primarily in the southern, western and extreme northern parts of the country, the major livelihood is livestock production with crop production as secondary source of income. Food crops become increasingly significant in general as one moves further north in the country, but also with increasing wealth within any given area. Other income sources are important, particularly in the south where most families do not grow enough grains to last to the next harvest. Incomes sources range from gold panning/mining, remittances from neighbouring South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, vegetable production, crafts sales and beer brewing.

SCF (UK) analyses show that in a normal year, crop production contributes to 15-20 percent of annual food needs for poor households in the south (Beitbridge) while better off households obtain 60-70 percent of annual needs from crops. In some communal areas in the north, a poor household may produce enough for 45-50 percent of their food needs, while a better off family produces enough to feed itself and a sell a sizeable surplus. Poor families undertake a number of activities to meet their food needs such as working on wealthier farmers’ land, or doing piecework on nearby commercial farms, with payment being made in form of food rather than cash. In a normal year an average person could earn up to 15-18 kg. of maize grain per day, but payment could drop to 5-10kg per day in a bad year.

Current-year food problems in the Communal and Resettlement sectors

This year, the massive crop failure and a loss of opportunities to work for food have reduced a poor family’s capability to ensure a minimum of consumption requirements. Furthermore, the impact of food shortages on food prices in the market has severely eroded the purchasing power and/or terms of trade for poorer households.

The early termination of rains has devastated communal and resettlement production of all crops, even drought tolerant ones such as sorghum, millets, and cotton, and minor crops like sweet potatoes, pumpkins and watermelons. Cash crops were also severely affected by drought, thereby reducing cash earnings of these families. In addition, the terms of trade between cotton and maize have roughly halved since last year. In Binga, 20 kg of maize currently costs the equivalent of 16-22kg of cotton, while this would have cost the equivalent of only 9.4 kg of cotton last year. The dry conditions have even disrupted the breeding cycle of the mopane worms (or edible caterpillars), an important protein and income source for some rural households.

The drought has affected all households within the communal areas, including middle-income and better off families who are better able to cope with the food crisis through cuts in non-essential expenditure or increased sale of assets especially livestock. Better off families are presently able to purchase maize on the informal sector at higher price and /or substituting with more expensive wheat flour, but even they are being forced to reduce food consumption to enable stretch maize stocks, as supplies on the informal markets and at GMB are erratic. Additional family members may have to seek work to compensate for declining wages, resulting in less time being spent in school by children and on caring for young children. In some districts, some households were able to increase earnings by involving all household members, including children, in gold panning/mining. Less time may have to be spent tending to their own fields, having possible knock-on effects on production potential for the 2003 harvest.

Although it has been reported that pasture and water conditions for livestock have not been affected this year, as was the case during the 1991/92 drought, the current drought is likely to affect livestock prices as hungry households attempt to sell more animals to enable them to buy grain. Even before the drought, livestock prices had been declining due to a general de-stocking in the commercial sector and the closure of the Cold Storage Commission. The increase in animals for sale will further depress prices, which will in turn further erode the purchasing power of livestock holding households, especially in the south.

Remittances and cross border work and trade in South Africa and Botswana are an important sources of income particularly in the border districts in the south. However, these opportunities have been declining over the past year due to lower employment opportunities and tighter immigration regulations.

The shortage of food in the markets is driving prices of the little grain that does arrive in the market higher. This will be exacerbated by any problems later this year in insuring adequate imports of food. Price controls are tending to exacerbate the food supply problem, as those who have food for sale refuse to sell it at Government-controlled prices. Controlled prices are only benefiting those close to GMB depots when grain arrives, and the few who are able to purchase the rare stocks delivered to supermarkets. Grain is presently being sold in small quantities on the black market both in rural and urban areas. In these markets, maize prices were 2-4 times compared to the GMB price, with even larger price differentials in the south where there was very little grain production this year.

The widespread maize shortages are changing the lifestyle of rural populations. Many communities are pooling their money to purchase maize from GMB, often sending a representative to do the purchasing. Two to four households are now sharing a 50 kg bag of maize, which they consume in a few days, before starting again to look for additional maize. Life is centred on sourcing maize. In some areas, households are travelling as far as 70 km to purchase maize. In Beitbridge where GMB is still selling from the depot, women in the queue to purchase maize indicated they had slept there for up to 7 days to be able to buy limited supplies. They reported having left children at home in the care of older siblings or without adequate care.

Livelihood patterns of urban and peri-urban populations

Food security in urban and peri-urban populations has only become an issue of significant concern in the last 2-3 years due to the nation’s poor macro-economic performance. Assessments carried out recently in Harare and Bulawayo by FEWSNet and WFP show some significant patterns to food insecurity in urban areas.

Poor households have limited labour resources, often only one income-earner in the family, very limited capital, and are typically engaged in the informal sector. According to the Bulawayo Urban assessment, many households are increasingly having difficulties in finding jobs and therefore informal sector work is becoming the most important income source particularly in the high-density suburbs. However, this sector is progressively becoming saturated, with about one in three households engaged in petty trade, selling similar goods to the same population thus reducing potential incomes for all. The poorest households are unable to afford many services such as healthcare and transport, and purchase a food basket that lacks diversity. They live in peri-urban settlements or high-density areas, and are often in debt on water and electricity bills.

Current-year food problems in the urban and peri-urban sector

In Harare in mid-2001, the poor were found to be spending approximately 40 percent of their incomes on food, while in Bulawayo almost a year later; the poorest were estimated to be spending 50-60 percent on food. A large part of their calories are derived from maize. Major causes of the current urban and peri-urban food insecurity and vulnerability in Zimbabwe includes high and rising food prices, low-wages in the formal sector, high rates of employment in a declining informal sector income-generating activities, unemployment due to company closure, inflation, death in the family, divorce or long illness of family members. A review of Harare City clinic records of the period January to September 2001 show an increase in the incidence of malnutrition in the high density areas. Pellagra, a nutrition deficiency associated with maize consumption without complementary protein from legumes, dairy or meat was found to be on the increase in the high-density suburbs, an indication that poor households are changing food consumption for the worse.

Livelihood patterns of Commercial Farm workers

Commercial farm workers have livelihood patterns and vulnerabilities that are entirely different from those of the communal sector and therefore warrant separate consideration. Prior to the start of the “Fast Track” land reform, there were about 350,000 full-time farm workers. With an average family size of 5, about 1.65 million people, or 13 percent of the total population lived on commercial farms.

Over 80 percent of the farm workers were employed in the Mashonaland provinces and Manicaland. Although a substantial percentage of them have distant foreign origins, the majority do not actually hold foreign citizenship, but rather are second- or third-generation Zimbabweans. This means that many of them do not have any access to communal lands in Zimbabwe, nor homes in Malawi, Zambia or Mozambique. Only approximately 40 percent of farm workers in the Mashonalands have a communal home. For other provinces the percentages range from 56 percent in Matabeleland South to 74 percent in Midlands. This makes many farm workers, particularly in Mashonaland, very vulnerable in the event of displacement from their farms. Of particular concern is that there are often large numbers of orphans and single mothers (especially among seasonal workers) within the farm worker population. Retrenchment or other disruption of farm worker communities places those groups at especial risk.

Farm workers’ livelihoods are relatively simple. Their employment on the farm – typically including permanent work for a man and seasonal work for his wife – provides for over 75 percent of total household income. This income is used to purchase around 80 percent of their food needs, with the balance coming from production of crops on small plots provided by the commercial farmer. Small amounts of money are earned from petty trade and non-food production. Farm workers are usually not allowed to keep livestock other than poultry. Wage levels are low, but are usually adequate to meet basic needs, particularly where farmers supplement wages with the provision of free or subsidized food, healthcare and education. Permanent workers and some seasonal workers are also housed on the farm. With housing, food, income and most services sourced on the farm itself, it is clear that the workers’ livelihoods are inextricably linked with the fate of the farm.

Current-year food problems of the Commercial Farm workers

Commercial farm seizures and resettlement are severely affecting the household livelihood security of farm workers. Data collated from district Agritex offices by FCTZ in April 2002 indicate that in the three Mashonaland provinces and Manicaland, a total of 2 239 farms out of 4 858, or almost 50 percent, have ceased their normal commercial operations, meaning that their workers have no more work or housing. It is estimated that 143 088 farm workers in those provinces have lost almost their entire livelihoods. This translates into 715 440 people when their family members are taken into account. Out of the 143 088 farm workers estimated to have lost their jobs in those 4 provinces, the Ministry of Local Government reports that only 1 183 have been resettled under the Fast Track programme, i.e. 0.8 percent. Farm workers have received minimal attention in the land reform programme, with only 2 087 farm worker families countrywide having been resettled.

On a national scale, and using a 50 percent rate of job loss of commercial farm workers, this means about 825 000 commercial farm worker families have lost their livelihood and are vulnerable to severe food insecure. It is estimated that about 169 900 commercial farm worker families have communal links and may have moved back to their communal homes. This population is unlikely to have grown crops and/or had been affected by the same drought conditions.

Changes in dietary patterns

The widespread maize meal shortages have led to significant changes in food consumption among the above-described population groups. Many families are unable to access maize due to limited supplies on the market and are substituting maize with other foods, and reducing the number of meals. The patterns of food substitution vary by income group and urban-rural location.

In rural areas, households consume cow peas, round nuts sweet potatoes and pumpkins in addition to maize meal at harvesting period. However, the drought has wiped out these important minor foods as well, thus putting more pressure on the little maize available. Households reported consuming more maize now at the time of harvest due to lack of other foods to eat. The better off rural families are buying barley and wheat to fill the gap but this is out of reach for many poor families as the price of these commodities is costing twice the price of maize. Many households reported a reduction in the consumption of variety of foods. Children are coping by looking for wild foods more so now than prior to the drought.

In urban areas, poor households obtain a large part of their calories from maize grain compared to better off households. The lack of maize is therefore affecting household food security of poor households more. The lowest income families are forced to purchase higher priced substitutes such as bread and therefore are reducing the number of meals or the amount of food consumed. Poorest households reported stretching maize meal by cooking porridge instead of sadza (a stiffer porridge) for some of the days. The expense and unavailability of cooking oil has compelled households to substitute cow fat drippings as a new important source of cooking oil. Substantial differences in caloric intake were found between low and high-income households, which in part reflected these uneven food substitution patterns. Better off households were able to substitute potatoes, pasta, bread and rice and margarine or butter for cooking oil.

Health and nutritional status

Malnutrition continues to be a major public health problem in Zimbabwe. According to the Demographic Health Survey (1999), national acute malnutrition is estimated at 6.4 percent with very high rates in Mashonaland West (19.4 percent), and Mashonaland East (12.7 percent). Rural areas have twice the rate of acute malnutrition (7.7 percent) compared to the urban areas (3.7 percent). More than one out of four children are chronically malnourished. About 5.6 percent of the women of childbearing age are underweight. Other data show the prevalence of children 12-71 months old with Vitamin A deficiency is 35.8 percent. The present precarious food security situation has serious nutrition implications especially for young children. Anecdotal reports are already showing increases in acute malnutrition in some areas of Kariba where there is no targeted child supplementary feeding. The time lag between the reduction in food consumption and increases in acute malnutrition makes it difficult to evaluate the effects of changes in food consumption on nutritional status.

According to UNAIDS, Zimbabwe along with other southern African countries has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates epidemic. National adult HIV prevalence rate is estimated at more than 25 percent. About 1.5 million adults are living with HIV/AIDS and 624,000 children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. The high incidence of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe has been a major contributor to increasing poverty as well.

HIV/AIDS pandemic is affecting all households, rural and urban. Studies have shown that HIV/AIDS affected rural households have low crop output and revenues due to labour constraints and poor crop management. In urban areas, deaths/illness particularly of breadwinners have resulted loss of income, children dropping out of school and the disintegration of families. HIV/AIDS affected households have higher expenditures on health and funerals, which, compete with food and other basic expenses thus contributing to increased vulnerability. Some communities visited by the Mission reported the presence of child headed families and an increase in the proportion of female-headed households over the last few years. Many orphaned children are however taken into care under the extended family systems particularly elderly grandparents thus increasing dependency burden and destitution. The drought will further increase the burden of taking care of orphaned children and the chronically sick.

The national poverty survey of 1995, reported that 61 percent of the population lived in poverty; the rural areas had disproportionately higher rates (75 percent) than the urban areas (39 percent). Female-headed households were more affected than male-headed, 85 percent against 72 percent respectively. The drought is likely to plunge these households into deeper poverty and deprivation as they try to manoeuvre their income to meet the food and non-food needs.

6.4 Estimation of seriously-affected population and emergency food aid requirements in 2002/03

Population affected and food aid needs

The Mission indicates that a total of 6,074,000 people will require at least 705 000 tonnes of cereals as food aid during the April 2002 to 31 March 2003 period (see Table 5). At least 5 267 000 of these affected populations will require immediate assistance, and for the entire marketing year. Another 807 000 people will require at least nine months of food aid, in the amount of at least 72 900 tonnes of cereals. In addition to these amounts of cereals, other food items, such as oil and legumes, should be provided to ensure that households have access to a minimally nutritionally-adequate diet.

Table 5. Zimbabwe: Mission estimates of affected populations and food aid requirements for 2002/03

  Popula-
tion
(‘000)
Severely affected Seriously affected Total affected
Popula-
tion
(‘000)
Food
aid
needs
(tonnes)
Popula-
tion
(‘000)
Food
aid
needs
(tonnes)
Popula-
tion
(‘000)
Food
aid
needs
(tonnes)
Rural population 7 204 3 592 431 071 807 72 900 4 399 503 971
Urban population 4 477 850 102 000     850 102 000
Commercial farm workers 1 650 825 99 000     825 99 000
Total Zimbabwe 13 331 5 267 632 071 807 72 900 6 074 704 971

Food requirements of other populations

The populations identified above as requiring food aid assistance include rural households that have lost most of their production and income, at least half of the former commercial farm workers and their families, who have neither income nor food, and an initial estimation of the percentage of the urban poor who have no income, or insufficient income to purchase food because of the current extremely high prices prevailing in the market. But there is also a substantial number of additional people in Zimbabwe who now have the resources to buy food when it is available on the market, but who suffer when it is not. They are rapidly using up their income and savings buying high-priced food, and will eventually need food aid if major new supplies of food do not enter the market soon and moderate prices. This population’s food crisis can best be resolved with food imports for the market, not food aid. If their needs are not soon served, the food crisis will become much larger and more difficult to resolve.

Actions required to avert severe malnutrition and elevated mortality due to hunger

Extraordinary measures will be required by the GOZ and the international community to cover both the food aid needs identified, as well as the country’s other consumption requirements. At present it appears that the GOZ, through the GMB, will not be able to import a sufficient quantity of cereals to assure other consumption requirements, due to its severely limited foreign exchange reserves. The Mission recommends a combination of private-sector commercial imports (852 000 tonnes) and humanitarian assistance (705 000 tonnes, of which 60 000 tonnes are already pledged) to meet this food gap (see Table 6).

Table 6: Recommended Strategy for Meeting the Uncovered Deficit (tonnes)

Remaining deficit after GoZ GMB imports (from food balance sheet) 1 497 000
Proposed private-sector commercial imports 852 000
Recommended Food Aid (in addition to current food aid pledges of 60 000) 645 000
Balance 0

Private-sector commercial imports would require the removal of the GMB monopoly on the import of maize, maize meal and wheat, removal of Government price controls to allow these products to be sold at prices reflecting the import cost, and the removal of all restrictions on the movement of grain inside the country. For people not able to pay the full price, a consumer subsidy scheme might also have to be introduced, possibly with donor assistance. This strategy will require co-ordination and agreement between Government, donors, and private-sector importers.

The food aid requirements described above assume that both actions, expanded imports and food aid, will be undertaken and completed in the quantities described. If, in particular, the private/sector imports in the amount specified above are not carried out, then the nutritional impacts, associated elevation in hunger-related mortality, and food aid needs would almost certainly be higher in the near future.

Below, the Mission describes the basis for estimates of affected populations and food aid needs for each group considered: rural populations (communal and resettled), urban residents, and commercial farm workers.

a) Communal and resettled rural populations: food aid needs and population affected

For the communal and resettlement sectors, the total number of people requiring food aid is considered to be 4 399 million, who will require 503 971 tonnes of food aid (see Table 7 below). Those who are “severely affected”, and who require assistance both immediately and for the 12 months of the marketing year, total 3 592 million people, and 431 071 tonnes of cereals (plus oils, legumes, etc.). Those who are “seriously affected” total at least 807 000, and require food aid of 72 900 tonnes for a 9-month period.

Table 7: Communal and Resettlement sector affected populations and food aid needs

Province Population
(‘000)
Total
cereal
deficit
(tonnes)
Severely affected Seriously affected Total affected
Popula-
tion
(‘000)
Food
aid
needs
(tonnes)
Popula-
tion
(‘000)
Food
aid
needs
(tonnes)
Popula-
tion
(‘000)
Food
aid
needs
(tonnes)
Manicaland 1 203 160 659 694 83 309 149 13 410 843 96 719
Mashonaland C. 782 57 795 184 22 080 77 6 930 261 29 010
Mashonaland E. 965 111 754 518 62 160 107 9 630 625 71 790
Mashonaland W. 607 29 687 86 10 320 27 2 430 113 12 750
Masvingo 1 228 177 609 841 100 922 131 11 790 972 112 712
Matabeleland N. 668 103 555 502 60 240 76 6 840 578 67 080
Matabeleland S. 563 91 123 297 35 640 104 9 360 401 45 000
Midlands 1 187 134 995 470 56 400 136 12 510 606 68 910
Total Zimbabwe 7 204 867 177 3 592 431 071 807 72 900 4 399 503 971

For the communal and resettled rural population, the assessment of food aid (cereal) requirements and the number of people requiring assistance were based on the following data and assumptions:

Severely affected communal and resettlement households are estimated to need assistance to cover the entire remaining deficit (12 months of consumption), and have most of the following characteristics:

Seriously affected households will require assistance to cover 75 percent of the unmet deficit (9 months of consumption). This reflects an assumption that moderately affected populations have still access to other sources of income such as remittances and/or petty trade, and include those that have:

Communal farmers generally have income from cash crops and other alternative sources of income to meet the gap between what they produce and their total food need. The amounts of food that these alternative sources of income can buy depend on the price at which these foods can be purchased on the market. In Zimbabwe today, even though price controls for basic foodstuffs are in effect, only a part of these needs can currently be met because almost no food is being put up for sale at this uneconomic price. The controlled GMB price for maize is Z$875 per 50kg bag, but prices on the free market are between two to four times higher and could rise even further in the months ahead.

The Provinces with the largest number of affected people in percentage of the total provincial population would be Matabeleland North, Masvingo, Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Midlands, and the number of Districts that are self-sufficient or surplus is only 6 out of the total 57 Districts.

b) Urban food aid needs and affected population

The number of people requiring assistance in urban areas was based upon the results of the Harare and Bulawayo urban assessments. These two assessments found that about 20 percent of the urban population now has inadequate income to assure adequate food consumption. Based on this information, the Mission estimates that 20 percent of the urban population or about 850 000 people are food insecure and require food assistance under current market conditions. Some of the features of these food insecure groups include the following: very poor female headed households, orphans, the chronically sick, elderly households and those that have lost employment due to closures caused by poor macro-economic conditions.

WFP is presently undertaking two sets of analysis to identify the modalities of intervention in urban areas: a) Market analysis will identify the most appropriate channel for undertaking targeted sales to food insecure households; and b) Targeting and institutional analysis to identify the target groups for food aid assistance either through market intervention or free food distribution/food for work. Pending completion of these analyses, these food aid needs may need to be reviewed.

c) Commercial farm workers: food aid needs and affected population

The Mission was unable to visit the commercial farms during the assessment due to insecurity prevailing in the areas visited. Estimates of the number of commercial farm workers requiring food assistance are therefore based on secondary data and previous evidence from other visits, and especially on the number of farms that have been taken over or resettled under the land redistribution programme. The commercial farms had a workforce of about 350 000 permanent workers. With an average family size of 5, about 1 650 000 people lived on commercial farms. Estimates provided to the Mission indicate at least half of the commercial farms have been “settled” or taken over for resettlement, with an equal percentage of commercial farm workers affected. Pending a more complete assessment, the Mission has tentatively estimated the number of former commercial farm workers and families requiring assistance at about 825 000, with food aid needs of 99 000 tonnes of cereal.

6.5 Strategies for WFP assistance

Ongoing Emergency Operation

WFP is currently operating in Zimbabwe an Emergency Operation (EMOP 10140) covering a total of 558 000 beneficiaries in communal areas in 19 districts which were affected by drought and floods 2001 in southern, western and extreme northern parts of the country. The 12-month EMOP began first distributions in February 2002 and aims to provide a total of about 117 000 tonnes of foodstuffs (93 646 tonnes of maize, 2 036 tonnes of oil, 12 215 tonnes of pulses, 5 090 tonnes of groundnuts and 3 664 tonnes of blended foods). Distribution is being undertaken through NGOs implementing partners already operating in the country in close consultation with national and local authorities.

As of mid-May about US$29,620,805 (50 percent of the total value of the EMOP) equivalent to 59 370 tonnes of food commodities had been pledged by donors. Distribution has been hampered by the slow arrival of the commodities in the country. As of 21 May 2002, WFP working through its Implementing Partners had distributed some 9 000 tonnes of food in 15 districts to over 453 000 beneficiaries. It is expected that distribution rate will increase in the near future and to attain the planned monthly distribution level of over 9 000 tonnes. WFP is discussing with NGOs involved in food aid projects a possible expansion of WFP operations with additional implementing partners.

As planned under a proposed Phase Two of the EMOP, WFP is currently undertaking an the study of maize markets and targeting mechanisms in urban areas for the design of an urban intervention programme to address urban food needs.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.
Office of the Chief
GIEWS FAO
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
E-mail: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG
Ms. J.Lewis
Regional Director, ODK WFP
Fax: 00256-41-255115
E-Mail: Judith.Lewis@WFP.ORG
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1 This section is based on a variety of sources including publications and unpublished reports of FAO, UNDP, FEWSNet, Government of Zimbabwe, Save the Children, U.K. and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

2 Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ),is an NGO specialized in providing support to farm workers communities