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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FAO Special Report on Zimbabwe

5 July 2004

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Highlights

The 2004 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) to Zimbabwe was curtailed; in country for 12 of the planned 19 days, visiting three of the country’s eight provinces. Based on fieldwork, information from many sources, including Government statistics, rainfall data, satellite imagery, extensive discussions with various industry experts, during and after the Mission, and previous experience in Zimbabwe CFSAMs1, this year’s cereal production is estimated at just over 950 000 tonnes2, with a margin of error of 10 percent. Below average and unevenly distributed rainfall in the important maize growing Mashonaland Provinces was a major reason. Other factors included shortages of draught power, quality seeds, fertilizer, labour, and problems A2 farmers3 faced in cultivating significant maize areas.

With a mid-2004/05 population of 11.9 million, total cereal utilization should be almost 2.35 million tonnes. This implies a potentially large national cereal import requirement: nearly 1.3 million tonnes.

As of 1 April 2004 informed sources put the level of GMB maize stocks at about 60 000 tonnes. Total cereal stocks in private hands have been estimated at about 45 000 tonnes. The government’s total cereal import capacity (maize) is estimated to be at least 620 000 tonnes (220 000 tonnes in pipeline from last year’s contracts, and at least 400 000 tonnes to be purchased in the current year). This reflects an improvement in the foreign exchange situation due to stricter Government management of foreign exchange transactions, including remittances from Zimbabweans abroad. The deficit of 285 000 tonnes in wheat and rice is expected to be covered through commercial imports. Taking into account food aid already pledged or available in country, the uncovered cereal deficit should be about 325 000 tonnes. Unless total utilization falls further, this deficit will have to be met by additional commercial food imports and/or food assistance.

An estimated 30-40 percent of farmers may run out of food from their own production within two or three months (end of June or July). Their already weakened coping mechanisms will be stretched to the breaking point. The ongoing economic crisis, with inflation remaining at around 600 percent annually, will inflict further hardships on the poorer groups, including the urban unemployed and under-employed. Household members from these categories of population are likely to require assistance on an urgent basis. The recently issued Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report indicates that 2.3 million rural people will not be able to cover their food needs in 2004/05. Late in 2003, the Zimbabwe VAC had also estimated4 that 2.5 million people in urban areas were food insecure.


Footnotes:
  1. The two FAO mission members had undertaken similar missions in Zimbabwe in 2002 and 2003.
  2. Over 975 000 tonnes, including barley.
  3. Two resettlement models have been defined (A1 and A2). For an explanation of these terms, please refer to Section 3.4.
  4. October, 2003.


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