Cablegate: Still Too Few Rains for Non-Irrigated Crops
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000015
STATE FOR AF/S AND AF/EX
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR 2037 DIEMOND
PASS USTR ROSA WHITAKER
TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND C WILKINSON
USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON AMGT ZI
SUBJECT: Still Too Few Rains for Non-Irrigated Crops
1. Summary: The latest Famine Early Warning Systems
Network (FEWSNET) report confirms that Zimbabwe is still
drawing too little rainfall to improve food supply.
Continued drought affords the GOZ an opportunity to dodge
blame for the disastrous consequences of its fast-track
land reform and export policies, the primary causes of
dwindling agricultural output. End Summary.
2. The FEWSNET report characterizes rainfall during the
2002/03 as "poor," ranging from 40 to 60 percent of
normal. Most other reports from around Zimbabwe's
agricultural centers, both scientific and anecdotal, are
similarly pessimistic. Half of this season's maize seed
may not yield crop. A possibility still exists that
heavy and persistent rains could rescue much of the crop,
but it is becoming less likely. Even under the best of
climate conditions, Zimbabwe is only cultivating for food
only 50 percent (and for foreign exchange-earning cash
crops, only 25 percent) of the area it used in the 1990s.
3. Damage caused by the GOZ's fast-track land reform and
export policies far exceeds the repercussions of El Nino.
However, we expect the GOZ to continue to blame rainfall
for low agricultural output. Postponing an eventual
reckoning with its counterproductive policies does not
bode well for an economy already declining by over 10
percent annually. By the time the GOZ devalues its
currency, reduces crippling export taxes, stops
intervening in the sale of primary goods and allows more
able and equipped farmers take control of the resettled
lands (perhaps by allowing title deeds to change hands),
there may not be much of an economy left to salvage.