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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Zimbabwe

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Zimbabwe
Dec 2011

Zimbabwe, once known as Africa’s breadbasket, has faced recurrent food shortages since 2001.

Erratic weather, high HIV/AIDS prevalence (over 18 percent) and multiple economic crises have increased hunger and poverty. The situation began to change in 2009 with the introduction of a multicurrency system, which improved food availability and access.

However, this is not a reality for all, especially for Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable. Over 1 million people remain food insecure. The country is transitioning from crisis to development, but many communities still require humanitarian support to make this move, particularly smallholder farmers.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

In Zimbabwe, the interrelated challenges of food production, food security and livelihoods impact the lives of 8.5 million people in rural areas. These constitute the largest set of humanitarian needs in the country.

Uneven rain distribution and dry spells in the 2010/11 agricultural season led to lower than anticipated harvests in six of the ten provinces. To make the most of the upcoming planting seasons, farmers urgently need quality inputs and improved production practices. This is crucial for the performance of next year’s harvest. One of the missing links to revitalize agriculture is the input market – where farmers and agrodealers should have long-term partnerships.

Livestock is an important asset for many of Zimbabwe’s smallholder farmers. The near collapse of the livestock industry in recent years has deteriorated families’ nutrition and income. Livestock disease outbreaks, exacerbated by the Government’s limited capacity to provide animal health services, have led to a further decline in livestock production. Related losses can be prevented through timely veterinary support, as well as animal restocking and diversification programmes.

Agriculture Cluster response

The Agriculture Cluster, led by FAO, seeks to help farmers produce beyond subsistence level and reduce their reliance on external assistance.

With donor funding, Cluster partners will provide farmers with seeds and fertilizers to boost crop production. This is anticipated to increase yields, enabling families to meet their food requirements for one year, until the next harvest. In many cases, vouchers will be used, so farmers can access their inputs of choice, helping to re-establish private sector suppliers. Training and extension support will also be provided, focusing on conservation agriculture.

Through a comprehensive livestock programme, Cluster members will help to safeguard, diversify and enhance production. This includes livestock health campaigns, animal restocking and improved market linkages. The programme aims to link existing local farming expertise with private sector support to improve livestock productivity.