The Zimbabwean agricultural sector has remained largely uncompetitive despite production increases attributed to government interventions like the Presidential Input Support Scheme and the command agriculture model adopted in the 2016/’17 season, a local think tank has said.
In its latest edition of the Zimbabwe National Competitiveness Report (ZNCR) for 2017, the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) said Zimbabwe recorded a 200% increase in maize yields from 0.4 tons per hectare in 2014/’15 season to 1.2 tons per hectare during the 2016/’17 farming season.
The report said despite contributing 12.5% to annual economic output and providing jobs to 75% of the population, the agriculture sector faces numerous constraints that have prevented and form of recovery.
“Major constraints affecting the agriculture sector include limited access to market information, unreliable supply of affordable inputs, lack of agricultural financing, high transport costs, inadequate road infrastructure and vulnerability to weather-related shocks,” the ZNCR report said.
The sectoral assessment checked for compliance with the World Bank “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” indicators including farmer access to seeds, fertilisers, farm machinery, agricultural finance, markets, transport, water, and information and communication technologies.
The report said locally-produced Zimbabwean fertilisers were sold at much higher prices when compared to the regional average. For example, Zimbabwean Compound D was found to be 25% more expensive than the same product in Zambia.
At 1.2 tons per hectare, Zimbabwe’s maize yield is still lower than the Southern African regional average of 2 tons per hectare. South Africa has the highest regional average maize output of 4.5 tons per hectare, followed by Zambia at 2.8 tons per hectare.
However, the report said Zimbabwe reaped more than enough cereals for its consumption in 2016/’17 and could even export grain for the first time since 1999.
“Zimbabwe last exported maize in 1998/’99 when national production was slightly above 1.5 million tons. National production for 2017 exceeded 2 million tons and this is more than the domestic consumption requirement. Therefore, the country has the potential to export maize in 2017,” the report concluded.
Following his inauguration last month, new Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to revive agriculture and reposition it as the main driver of economic growth. He pledged to increase the allocation of resources to agriculture in order to improve food security.
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