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Economy, agriculture and food security
The economy was not performing well with a GDP declining by 50 percent from 1997 to 2008. However, since 2009 it is increasing again and reached 13 663 millions current US$ in 2014 thanks to the establishment of a Government of National Unity in February 2009 and the adoption of macroeconomic stabilization policies, including the multi-currency regime.
Prior to 2000, agriculture contributed to over 20 percent of the GDP depending on the years, but declined similarly to the whole economy due to the “Fast Track Land Reform Program” (FTLRP), droughts, high HIV prevalence (15 percent in 2013) and extremely high unemployment (estimated at 60 percent). However, agriculture production is also recovering and contributes to 14 percent of the GDP in 2014. It remains a cornerstone of the Zimbabwean economy and is, together with the mining sector, leading the economic recovery.
Production of major crops contributing to the national food security increased significantly during the 1980s and 1990s, when Zimbabwe was referred to as a “breadbasket of Southern Africa” (MDT 2011). However there has been a major decline in yields and global production of key crops in the period 2000-2010. Since then, increase in agricultural production, in particular maize, helped address food security and rural poverty, but still 33.5 percent of the population is undernourished in 2015 (FAOSTAT, 2015) and 72 percent of the population lived below the national poverty lines in 2011 (WB, 2015).
Because most of the country receives limited and erratic rainfall, irrigation is a prerequisite for successful crop production in these areas. Access to water through irrigation could both increase agricultural production and stabilize crop yields (AFD, 2012), but it is the main challenge for the sector together with access to the other agricultural inputs (land, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) (GoZ, 2012).