Poor agric prospects for Zimbabwe

HARARE - The Famine Early Warning Network System (FEWSNET) anticipates that the macroeconomic challenges will persist in Zimbabwe, until May 2019, negatively impacting on the country’s agricultural prospects. 

Forecasting on the economic and agricultural prospects for 2018/19 season, FEWSNET noted with concern that the start of the 2018/19 rainfall season had been delayed and rains had been erratic for significant production in the southern and western parts of the country, covering parts of Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South.

“Economic challenges are expected to continue during the outlook period and will have direct and indirect impact  on livelihoods and food security. Foreign currency shortages will continue to affect industry, parallel market foreign currency exchange rates, the multi-pricing system and high prices of commodities and services,” FEWSNET said.

The agriculture industry is facing a critical shortage of fertiliser and chemicals due to the shortage of foreign currency. Since October 2018, the prices of seed, fertiliser, and other chemicals have increased significantly by approximately 200 percent.

Besides the economic factors, other factors that will adversely impact crop and livestock production in 2019 include the presence of fall armyworm, other livestock and crop diseases, as well as increasing market uncertainties.

“Normally, local manufacturing companies and importers provide these (crop chemicals and fertilisers) supplies but have been facing difficulties in meeting demand and sustaining operations because of the on-going liquidity crisis in the country.”

Agricultural experts have since warned government of the negative agricultural outlook for 2018/2019.

“The 2018/19 summer season outlook is not looking good. Many farmers failed to plant their normal maize acreages because either: They were previously contracted by the Command Agriculture scheme, but did not get inputs this year after Finance minister Mthuli Ncube dumped the programme. Most farmers got seed and diesel only, but no fertiliser and therefore they did not plant much maize. They simply planted small areas for their own consumption or that tallied with the resources at their disposal,” agricultural economist Peter Gambara said.

The increase in the cost of production for maize during the 2018/2019 production year to around 
$3 750 per hectare is expected to result in a break even producer price of around $900 per tonne up from $390 per tonne.

“That will still work out to be around US$236, which will be almost the same as the import parity price, it will be up to grain millers to import or buy locally,” Gambara added.

The sector is faced with a massive reduction in the area planted. Rainfall levels across most of the country are below the normal long-term average. This has adversely affected on-farm activities such as land preparation and planting.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Wonder Chabikwa said farmers were hopeful for a better second half of the season as the first half was characterised by late and erratic rains.

The latest international climate forecasts indicate that during the December 2018 to March 2019 period, Zimbabwe is most likely to receive below-average seasonal rainfall.

Comments (1)

Hazviziriizvo zvinoitwa. Vamwe vanorima gore rese vachikohwa wani , tno us$90Mn+...mvura or no mvura.

Kurekwegava farms - 9 January 2019

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