Zimbabwe

FEWS Zimbabwe Food Security Update: 21 Oct 2002

Attachments


Summary

Winter wheat harvest and deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board commenced in September 2002. A total of 68,000 MT of wheat had been delivered to GMB in early October compared with 83,000 MT at the same time last year. Wheat deliveries to the market began much earlier than normal and expected. The early delivery, coupled with price increases of bread, has eased the bread shortages in the market.

The rains that fell throughout most of the country during the first part of October 2002 did not signal the start of the season. The Department of Meteorological Services of Zimbabwe expects the rainfall season to start during the last week of October 2002.

A moderate El Niño continued to develop throughout September 2002 and the early part of October 2002, and is expected to expand to establish basin-wide mature El Niño conditions during the December 2002 to February 2003 period. Historical data suggest that under moderate to strong El Niño conditions the southern half of Zimbabwe is likely to experience crop yield reductions of 20 to 40 percent of normal yields.

Since the introduction of price controls (October 2001), prices of basic commodities in parallel markets have increased at rates well above the rate of inflation. This has resulted in shortages of basic commodities. Between May and September 2002, prices of basic foodstuffs increased, some dramatically. The price of sugar increased about 230 percent, that of cooking oil, about 180 percent, and that of maize meal, 130 percent. Bread prices increased by just under 120 percent, while fresh milk and beef increased more modestly, by 80 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

A total of 47,814 MT of hybrid maize seed is available in the country, which is adequate to plant an estimated 1.6 million hectares with maize, a 14 percent increase of the 1.4 million ha normally planted. However there is generally a shortage of planting material for sorghum, millets, pulses (such as cowpeas), beans, and groundnuts. Farmers normally retain this planting material, but have not done so due to widespread crop failures in 2001 and 2002 in some areas. As a result the retained seed is limited.

With the start of the rainfall season already underway, just about 20 percent of the estimated Z$160 billion required to finance agricultural activities in the 2002-03 production year has been secured. The secured funding includes Z$8.5 billion from the government and Z$24 billion from three private corporations.

Maize and maize meal shortages have continued since February 2002 as grain imports into the country remain slow; meanwhile, cereal stocks available from last year’s harvest have diminished. A total of 647,000 MT of maize has been imported into the country since April 1, 2002. At the current rate of imports of 99,500 MT of maize (grain) per month, an additional 650,000 MT of maize could be imported before the end of the marketing year in March 2003. The imports would only meet 73 percent of the monthly maize requirements.

An additional 200,000 MT of wheat imports are required in addition to the committed 17,000 MT to meet the requirements after April 2003 and before the harvest in October 2003.

Food aid distribution has not kept pace with food requirements. In areas where food aid is required, only Chiredzi, Chimanimani, Mberengwa, Insiza, Kariba, and Umzingwane Districts have more than 75 percent of the population identified as food insecure receiving assistance.

1.1. Winter Crop Condition

The Crop Forecasting Committee estimates that a total of 9,500 MT of winter maize is expected from 2,286 ha of winter maize planted in the Southern Eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe. Of this, about 1,500 ha were planted by the government in Triangle and Hippo Valley Sugar Estates in the lowveld on lands loaned to the government. The remainder was planted on Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) lands in the South Eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe, in areas that are less frost-prone. Most of the maize crop is ready for harvesting, but has been affected by theft and wild animals. Despite this, the harvest is likely to be slightly above the 9,500 MT estimate of the Crop Forecasting Committee.

The winter wheat harvest and deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board commenced in September 2002. A total of 68,000 MT of wheat had been delivered to GMB in early October compared with 83,000 MT the same time last year. Wheat deliveries to the market started on September 16, 2002, much earlier than normal and expected. The early delivery coupled with price increases of bread has decreased bread shortages in the market. From the official estimates, a total of 212,000 MT of wheat is expected. The wheat harvest is 62 percent of the 2001 final harvest of 340,000 MT, which included 6,000 MT of wheat seed. The harvest is one of the lowest since 1991, only surpassing the 1992 and 1995 drought harvests (Figure 1).





1.2. Seasonal Outlook and Potential Impact of El Niño

In the 2002-03 seasonal outlook update of October 4, 2002, the Department of Meteorological Services revised its forecast for the first half of the season from that issued at the beginning of September 2002. The updated forecast indicates the increased probability of receiving normal to above-normal rains during the first half of the season (October to December) for the whole country. The September 2002 forecast had divided the country into a southern and northern half. The northern half was forecast to receive normal to above-normal rains during the first half of the season, while the southern half was forecast to have normal to below-normal rains in the same period. Now, normal rainfall, biased toward below normal, is forecasted for the second half of the season (January to March 2003)

The rains that fell throughout most of the country during the first part of October 2002 did not signal the start of the season (Figure 2). The Department of Meteorological Services of Zimbabwe expects the rainfall season to start the last week of October/early November 2002. Despite the low amount of rainfall, some farmers in areas with sandy soils and wet areas have planted their maize crop, and it has germinated.




Moderate El Niño conditions continued to develop throughout September 2002 and the early part of October 2002. Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in the Equatorial Pacific Region, an indictor of El Niño conditions, are expected to increase and the area they cover is expected to expand to establish a basin-wide mature El Niño during the December 2002-February 2003 period. Under moderate to strong El Niño conditions, historical data suggest that the southern half of Zimbabwe is likely to experience a 20 to 40 percent reduction in average potential crop yield. As a result of this seasonal forecast, food security strategic plans for Zimbabwe should factor in a scenario of much reduced crop production in the 2003-2004 consumption year.

1.3. Market Conditions

1.3.1 Consumer Goods

With the government’s introduction of price controls on basic commodities in October 2001, supermarkets and other commercial shops nationwide were emptied of the commodities listed as controlled. The outcome of this policy has been the emergence of thriving parallel markets for maize meal, sugar, cooking oil, salt, bread, milk, and flour. As the shortages grew in the official markets, parallel market prices of basic commodities have increased at rates well above official inflation rates of 135 percent per annum. Between May and September 2002, prices of basic foodstuffs increased, some dramatically. The price of sugar increased about 230 percent, that of cooking oil, about 180 percent, and that of maize meal, 130 percent. Bread prices increased by just under 120 percent, while fresh milk and beef increased more modestly, by 80 percent and 30 percent, respectively (Figure 3). The price increases are seriously curtailing poor urban households’ access to food as well as relegating a significant proportion of this vulnerable group to absolute destitution.




1.3.2. Agricultural Inputs

The retail price of seed has been revised upward as of September 25, 2002. The price of maize seed went up from Z$1,946 to Z$Z$4,280 per 25 kg. That of groundnuts and sunflower rose by 150 percent, while that of sugar beans increased by 300 percent, and soybeans by 375 percent. The increase in the prices of seed would negatively affect the farmers’ preparation for the 2002-03 production season.

1.4. Preparations for the 2002-03 Agricultural Production Season

1.4.1. Inputs Availability

The quantity of seed available in the country at the end of September is much less than what was available last year. The reduced seed quantities can be attributed to the general low production in 2002 due to the drought and the disruption of the traditional seed producers (the large-scale commercial farming areas) by the land reform. A total of 47,814 MT of hybrid maize seed is available in the country, enough to plant close to 1.6 million ha of maize. This area is 14 percent more than the 1.4 million ha normally planted to maize. In normal years, farmers retain their own sorghum, millets, pulses (such as cowpeas), beans, and groundnut seed, but due to widespread crop failures in 2001 and 2002 in some areas, most farmers have not been able to retain the seed, reducing the quantities available on the market. As a result, there is a seed deficit for crops including cotton, groundnuts, millets, pulses, sorghum, and wheat (Figure 4).




Maize seed sales have been normal as of the end of June 2002, with a total of 3,600 MT of maize seed purchased compared with 3,300 MT in 2000 and 4,800 MT last year. Seed purchases typically increase gradually, normally reaching a peak in November when a total of 28,000 MT would have been bought (Figure 5).





Total flue-cured tobacco seed sales for 2002-03 dropped by 19 percent to 295 kg from last year’s sale of 352 kg. The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association estimates that a total of 41,300 ha, about 50 percent of the recent five-year average, will be planted in the 2002-03 production season. Yields are expected to fall 23 percent from a recent five-year average of 2,490kg/ha. Both the reduction in area planted and the average yield resulted in the projected flue-cured tobacco harvest for the 2002-03 production year declining to 70,000MT, or 34 percent of the recent national five-year average and 41 percent of last year’s estimated harvest of 170,000 MT. The projected fall in flue-cured tobacco harvest for next year is mainly the result of a forecast drop of 78 percent from the recent-five-year-average in area planted by the large-scale tobacco sector to area planted of 72,700 ha (Figure 6).

Flue-cured tobacco contributes about 29 percent of total export earnings and 9 percent to gross domestic product of Zimbabwe. Reduced tobacco production will exacerbate the foreign currency crisis currently stifling the Zimbabwean economy, forcing it to shrink further and compromising its capacity to respond to food imports in the 2003-04 consumption year.

Generally there is a shortage of both basal and top dressing fertilizers this year unless concerted effort to import the ingredients is made. A total of 600,000 MT of NPK fertilizer and 420,000 MT of ammonium fertilizer is required for the 2002-03 crop production but only about 262,000 MT of NPK and 140,000 MT of AN could be produced between now and March 2002 giving a deficit of 338,000 MT of NPK and 280,000 of AN. The shortage of fertilizers in 2002-03 is attributed to the following circumstances:

  • Phosphate is manufactured in Dorowa and transported to the major fertilizers companies in Harare by rail, and recently, transport capacity has been stretched due by food imports, making the fertilizer companies resort to the more expensive road transport and not meeting the demand.

  • Calcium is imported from outside Africa and, due to foreign currency shortages, the amount imported has been insufficient. The Government has, however, made some concerted effort by allocating foreign currency to the fertilizer companies.

  • The ammonium nitrate being manufactured by Sable Chemicals has not been adequate and the company has been able to produce about two thirds of the Nitrogen and was going to import the remaining third, but due to foreign currency shortages this has not been possible. Lat year there was a similar shortage which was slightly alleviated by the importation of 35,000 Mt of urea.

The pending shortages, if not addressed by the provision of foreign currency by Government, the donor and NGOs to import the fertilizer or ingredients used in fertilizer manufacturing, will result in poor crop growth and reduced yields and harvests in 2002-03 season.




1.4.2. Agricultural Input Support Schemes

With the start of the rainfall season underway, only about 20 percent of the estimated Z$160 billion required to finance agricultural activities in the 2002-2003 production year has been secured. The secured funding includes Z$8.5 billion from government and Z$24 billion from Delta, FSI Holding, Ivines Day Old Chicks, Ingweu Breweries, Seed Co, and Cotton Company of Zimbabwe. If the pending Z$ 60 billion agriculture bond issue is successful, the agriculture funding gap will be reduced to 42 percent of total requirements. Given the nature of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe bonds, for which the interest rates are higher for short-term bonds than longterm bonds, economic analysts are predicting that yield curve response to the issuance of the agriculture bond is expected to be lukewarm. Given that commercial banks have been slow in responding to the funding needs of the new farmers because they consider them too risky, the current agriculture funding gap is not likely to be closed before the start of the rainfall season.

Delivery of inputs under the government input scheme started in mid-September 2002, with some farmers already having received some maize seed. Progress on delivery of the inputs is being constrained by the following factors:

a) GMB is unable to transport inputs to distribution points because transporters are asking for Z$40/km/MT while GMB is offering a maximum of Z$18/km/MT

b) Production of fertilizer and hence its supply to the input scheme is being slowed by erratic supply of phosphate by the National Railways of Zimbabwe, resulting from much reduced NRZ cargo handling capacity

c) Ammonium Nitrate (AN) fertilizer production rate has been reduced by 35 percent to 13,500 MT per month, due to foreign currency shortages being experienced by the only local AN fertilizer producing company, Sable Chemical Industries.

The effectiveness of the input schemes could be seriously compromised if inputs are delivered late to farmers.

Map of food aid distribution by WFP and number of people in need of food aid in Zimbabwe

(pdf* format)