538days until
Millennium Development Goals Deadline

Agriculture

Introduction

As mentioned in the Background, Zimbabwe is truly blessed with fantastic natural resources and fertile soil. Despite this, the agricultural practices of the country are failing its people. There are a number of issues at stake within Zimbabwean agriculture.


 

The first of these is that over one and a half million Zimbabweans still need food assistance on a daily basis to survive. This is the crucial issue within Zimbabwean agriculture.[1] With sixty five per cent of the population living in rural settings, seventy-eight per cent of land use devoted to agriculture, and a large, hungry population, agriculture occupies a central role in Zimbabwe. The role of agriculture in Zimbabwe is not only central to the day to day functioning of the country, but also to its development.  The problems facing the country are not helped by the fact that the vast majority of the farmers in Zimbabwe are smallholder farmers, the most susceptible to failing to produce the required amounts of crops. It also means that in poor harvests, the livelihoods of many Zimbabweans are at risk. The Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that 5.1 million (out of 12 million) Zimbabweans are undernourished.[2]

 

 


Challenges

This shortfall in crop and livestock production is due to a plethora of factors. First of all, there are not enough inputs to provide Zimbabwe with enough food. This includes seeds, fertilizers, enough water for irrigation, or in the case of livestock farming, enough vaccinations to ensure the prevention of diseases such as lumpyskin disease, foot and mouth disease, or Newcastle’s disease.[3] Another factor is the prevalence of pests in Zimbabwe, due mainly to the lack of pesticide available to the smallholder farmers. These farmers are those with the least accessibility to water for irrigation purposes. Yet another crucial factor is the market conditions and structures that any surpluses can be sold into.[4] In recent years, most notably in 2008, Zimbabwe has become prone to drought, showing the importance of climate issues when regarding agriculture in developing countries.

 

Zimbabwe


 

Developments

Crop production in particular reached a low point in 2008, however, in 2009 a larger crop was harvested. Despite the 1.14 million tons of cereals harvested in 2009, nearly 700,000 tons were supplied by different organizations across the country.[5] Mechanization has also become an important process of improving Zimbabwean agriculture, as has the development of co-operative farming schemes.  As livestock farming (cattle in particular) play a crucial social role in Zimbabwean society, extra efforts have been made to ensure that the national herd is protected and developed.[6] The FAO and the Ministry for Agriculture have co-operated on a number of programmes aimed at preventing the further destruction of livestock by disease and poor grazing practices.[7]

 

Conclusion

There are many challenges facing agriculture in Zimbabwe. Agriculture is, of course, interdependent on other issues within development, especially health, climate change and water issues. However, as such a large proportion of the people depend on it for their livelihoods as well as their sources of food, the development of Zimbabwean agriculture is intrinsic to overall development of the country of Zimbabwe.



[1] World Food Programme, “Zimbabwe”, http://www.wfp.org/countries/zimbabwe

[2] Food and Agricultural Organization, “Zimbabwe”, http://www.fao.org/countries/55528/en/zwe/

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

 
 
 
Original Challenge Question:
 
Re: Agriculture and Food Security Budgetary Increase

Minister,

An increased budget allocation for agriculture and food security for the people of Zimbabwe is required. Currently, roughly US$ 56 million (2.47% of GDP) is being spent on agriculture. There is an economic disconnect between the 7.75 million (of a total 13 million population) employed within agriculture and the share of GDP which it produces, currently around 19%.

Zimbabweans have a life expectancy of 39 years. Five million people are undernourished. The rates of stunting and underweight in children stand at 29% and 20% respectively. Child mortality rates currently stand at 126 per 1000 live births. With such high rates of undernourishment, it is clear that current agricultural practices are failing the nourishment needs of the population

Two existing constraints on agricultural production are limiting the production of agricultural produce in Zimbabwe; water (including the lack of water, and poor water use) and the prevalence of disease amongst livestock.

There are solutions to these problems. Firstly, crops which are less drought-prone should be more heavily input-subsidized. Smallholder farmers, the majority of which are reliant on rain-fed agriculture, should be provided with irrigation education programmes, drip-irrigation systems and treadle pumps in order to boost production and crop-diversification. An on-farm water management programme should be established within this system. Secondly, in order to reduce rates of foot-and-mouth disease, rabies, lumpy-skin disease and Newcastle’s disease, heavier investment should be made in the vaccination of livestock, dipping chemicals and mobile veterinary units. The Rebuilding of the National Herd Programme should also receive a larger amount of funding. The increase in healthy livestock is necessary to ensure sufficient protein is included in the Zimbabwean diet.
 
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