Zimbabwe is likely to have another poor agricultural season because a number of factors that affect the agricultural industry have not been addressed. These include the shortage of seed and fertilisers or, where available, their high cost, the availability of diesel, the shortage of foreign currency, limited money in circulation, high interest rates and limited access to credit.
The report from the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNet) for July says the country is likely to have a cereal deficit of 1 million tones with the bulk, 753 490 tonnes, being maize. The country will have a deficit of 162 953 tonnes of wheat, 110 802 tonnes of millet and 4 087 tonnes of rice. So far, 152 068 tonnes of maize have been imported reducing the deficit to 697 224 tonnes.
The government has appealed for aid of 600 000 tonnes.
FEWSNet says supplies in the northern and central districts of the country are stable with the price of maize at Mbare Musika unchanged at $166 a kg. In the high density suburbs, however, it has risen to $222 a kg. The situation is desperate in the Southern districts where prices are around $264 a kg. Commercial maize meal, where available, is selling for about $750 a kg.
FEWSNet says the shortage of seed and fertiliser is likely to undermine production in the coming season. The shortage of diesel, it says, has already affected the winter wheat crop and is likely to hamper land preparation for the summer crop and the harvesting of winter wheat.
The shortage of foreign currency will constrain the importation of inputs and spares while the high cost of seed and fertiliser may force farmers to use retained seed and reduce the use of fertiliser.
Lack of local cash could undermine the financing of agricultural production while high interest rates may make the production of wheat and maize nonviable. FEWSNet says these factors are likely to influence agricultural production for years to come if they are not addressed.