Agriculture in ZimbabweZimbabwe, a landlocked country in southern Africa, has a long history of agriculture and is home to some of the most fertile land in Africa. However, poverty and agriculture in Zimbabwe have long been intertwined, with many smallholder farmers struggling to make ends meet.

Poverty and Agriculture in Zimbabwe

The World Bank reports that Zimbabwe currently faces a poverty headcount ratio of 39.8% at the national poverty lines, with numerous rural households relying on subsistence farming as their main source of income. Despite these circumstances, the country has the potential to emerge as a significant food producer due to its fertile land and favorable climate conditions.

One of the most prominent challenges for agriculture in Zimbabwe is the limited access to credit and technical assistance. Many small-scale farmers lack the necessary resources and knowledge to invest in their farms and improve productivity. A study published in the Journal of Economic and International Finance reveals that Zimbabwean banks have consistently maintained relatively small agricultural loan portfolios, representing merely 10% to 25% of the total loan books since the country’s current multi-currency system kicked off in 2009. Consequently, this limited access to credit curtails the farmers’ ability to invest in agricultural endeavors and enhance yields.

Additionally, climate change presents barriers for Zimbabwean farmers. Droughts and floods are increasingly afflicting the country, leaving farmers ill-equipped to adapt to these shifting conditions due to limited resources and knowledge. As a result, many farmers have to abandon their crops and rely on food aid for survival.

Efforts to End Poverty in Zimbabwean Agriculture

Despite the many challenges, there are ongoing efforts aiming to address the issue of poverty in the Zimbabwean agricultural sector. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) actively contributes to the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) by focusing on three priority areas aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These priorities encompass strengthening policy and institutional frameworks, enhancing agricultural productivity and competitiveness, bolstering resilience and the adoption of climate-smart agriculture.

The FAO supports these efforts through several initiatives, including policy formulation, capacity development, irrigation schemes, livestock programs, reduction of post-harvest losses, ensuring food safety, managing climate risks, natural resource management and establishing early warning systems. Collaborations with public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and donors further promote community resilience and advocate climate-smart agriculture.

Another example is the Zimbabwe Pfumvudza Programme. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the Zimbabwe Pfumvudza Programme aims to assist vulnerable households in maize, sunflower, small grains and soya bean production. The program supplies standardized input packages, such as 3kg of seed, 50kg of basal fertilizers and 50kg of top dressing fertilizers, sufficient for a 0.125 ha plot. Also, it actively promotes Conservation Agriculture Principles (CA) to address climate-related challenges.

Looking Ahead

Agriculture currently accounts for a substantial portion of the Zimbabwean GDP (17%) and employs a significant percentage of the population (60-70%). By investing in agriculture, Zimbabwe has the potential to generate employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth in both rural and urban areas.

Despite the challenges facing Zimbabwean farmers, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. For example, efforts to promote agricultural development are gaining momentum, and there is growing recognition of the importance of agriculture in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty.

– Amber Kim
Photo: Flickr

Agricultural Success in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, a landlocked country located in southern Africa, is experiencing improvements in the nation’s economy after “facing its worst economic crisis in a decade.” This crisis is the result of a drought as well as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following this difficult period, however, the recent upswing in the economy is largely due to agricultural success in Zimbabwe. If this trend continues, the future looks promising for Zimbabwe and its citizens.

Agriculture in Zimbabwe

The economy in Zimbabwe, specifically in rural areas, is primarily reliant upon agriculture. The agricultural sector employs approximately 60%-70% of the population and is responsible for 40% of all export revenue. Due to this dependency, when agriculture in Zimbabwe struggles, the rest of the economy suffers as a result.

The Economy in Zimbabwe

In the past two years, Zimbabwe has endured a significant economic recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing drought. In 2020, the GDP decreased roughly 10% and inflation increased from about 227% to a staggering 622.8%. However, more stable weather conditions now pave the way for agricultural recovery in Zimbabwe, which, in turn, is now fostering economic improvement.

Tafadzwa Gamanya, a small farmer in rural Zimbabwe, has had a productive season for his crops due to the end of the drought. “This year is much better for us here,” Gamanya tells VOA. “We had good rains. We have enough water to irrigate our crops until the next rain season.”

Confirming these favorable conditions, the Zimbabwe Meteorological Services Department reports that Zimbabwe is witnessing statistically average to above average amounts of rainfall during this crop season. The support of the government also plays an integral role —  government initiatives “ensured that farmers had adequate inputs on time for the 2020/21 cropping season.”

During December 2020 and January 2021, some parts of the region experienced “wet spells,” greatly contributing to the significant crop yield. The farmers welcome this change in comparison to the drought that previously ravaged the nation.

Minimizing Food Insecurity

Along with economic improvements, agricultural success in Zimbabwe reduces food insecurity in the nation. The country notes that the 2021 harvest is “capable of feeding” the entire population of 14.65 million people over the course of “the next year.”

The 2021 maize harvest is so large that, in May 2021, agricultural authorities placed a ban on importing the crop. This stands in stark contrast to Zimbabwe’s $298 million expenditure on maize imports during the 2019-2020 drought season. These savings are tremendously helpful to the Zimbabwean economy.

The Road to Recovery

As rains begin to stabilize and businesses are able to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, World Bank experts anticipate that Zimbabwe’s GDP may climb to 3.9% by the close of 2021. Bringing even more hope to the nation, experts predict that Zimbabwe’s GDP may rise by 5.1% in 2022 if the pandemic or other factors do not interfere with current trends.

After a difficult two-year recession, Zimbabwe’s economy is finally on the road to recovery. While businesses are beginning to rebound following the most severe impacts of COVID-19, agricultural success in Zimbabwe is further contributing to economic improvement. The nation’s GDP is growing and the number of food-insecure Zimbabweans is shrinking. While there remains room for progress, Zimbabwe’s current economic course shows that the nation is heading in the right direction.

River Simpson
Photo: Flickr