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Cablegate: Poor 2003 Agricultural Production

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000939

SIPDIS

AID FOR DCHA/FFP LANDIS, CRUMBLY, MUTAMBA, PETERSEN
DCHA/OFDA FOR KHANDAGLE, BORNS, HALMRAST-SANCHEZ
AFR FOR COPSON, FORT, BAKER, MACNAIRN
STATE/AF FOR RAYNOR, DELISI
PRETORIA FOR DIJKERMAN, HELM, DISKIN
NAIROBI FOR DEPREZ, RILEY, HALE
LILONGWE FOR RUBEY
LUSAKA FOR GUNTHER
MAPUTO FOR POLAND, BLISS
MASERU FOR BELLEGARDE
MBABANE FOR KENNA
ROME FOR FODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR EFIN PREL US ZI
SUBJECT: POOR 2003 AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION
PROSPECTS MEAN CONTINUED FOOD INSECURITY IN
ZIMBABWE

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. A USAID BUREAU FOR DEMOCRACY CONFLICT AND
HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE (DCHA) PRELIMINARY RAPID
ASSESSMENT OF PROSPECTS FOR THE CURRENT HARVEST
CONCLUDED THAT PARTS OF ZIMBABWE ONCE AGAIN FACE
FAILED HARVESTS AND LIMITED MARKET ACCESS TO FOOD
DUE TO A COMBINATION OF POOR RAINFALL, COMMERCIAL
FARM CLOSURES, LACK OF INPUTS, AND COUNTER
PRODUCTIVE FOOD MARKETING POLICIES. ADDITIONALLY,
THE GMB IS EXPECTED TO HAVE LESS CAPACITY (FOREX)
TO IMPORT FOOD OVER THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS.

2. WHILE IT IS ANTICIPATED THAT NATIONAL AGGREGATE
PRODUCTION WILL BE MARKEDLY HIGHER THAN LAST YEAR,
IT IS DOUBTFUL THAT THE FOOD SECURITY SITUATION
WILL IMPROVE FOR MANY HOUSEHOLDS, PARTICULARLY IN
THE SOUTH WHERE MUCH OF THE CEREAL CROP HAS BEEN A
COMPLETE WRITE-OFF. MISGUIDED GOZ MARKET POLICIES
CONTINUE TO MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO ACCESS MAIZE AND
WHEAT IN MARKETS, AFFECTING NEARLY EVERYONE IN THE
COUNTRY. GENERAL ECONOMIC DECLINE, POLITICAL
TUMULT AND HIV/AIDS ALL CONTRIBUTE TO THE DIFFICULT
FOOD SECURITY SITUATION. DIFFERING CROP FORECASTS
HAVE RECENTLY BEEN ISSUED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF
ZIMBABWE, THE FAMINE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM NETWORK
AND THE COMMERCIAL RARMERS UNION, RANGING FROM
800,000 MT TO 1.5 MILLION MT. ALTHOUGH MORE
DEFINITIVE ASSESSMENT RESULTS ARE STILL SEVERAL
WEEKS AWAY [SEE MISSION COMMENT, PARA 16.],
INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO POST AT THIS POINT
SUGGESTS THAT MANY COMMUNAL FARMERS WILL REMAIN
DEPENDENT ON FOOD AID FOR MUCH OF 2003. IT IS NOT
POSSIBLE TO PROVIDE A BINDING ESTIMATE OF NEED
UNTIL FINAL HARVEST FIGURES BECOME AVAILABLE.

3. IN MOST AREAS, FOOD AID NEEDS WILL BE REDUCED
AS A RESULT OF THE MAY/JUNE HARVEST. DURING THIS
TIME, FOCUS SHOULD BE ON IMPROVED TARGETING OF FOOD
AID, INCLUDING FOOD-FOR-WORK, TO REACH THE MOST
VULUNERABLE MORE EFFECTIVELY. NON-FOOD ASSISTANCE
PRIORITIES INCLUDE SEEDS AND OTHER INPUTS FOR
COMMUNAL FARMERS, AND SUPPORT FOR U.N. HUMANITARIAN
COORDINATION AND MONITORING. END SUMMARY.

------------------------------
OVERVIEW OF ASSESSMENT MISSION
------------------------------

4. AS PART OF A LARGER USAID REGIONAL ASSESSMENT TO
DETERMINE EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE NEEDS FOR 2003/04,
TWO TEAMS COMPOSED OF OFFICERS FROM THE OFFICES OF
FOOD FOR PEACE (FFP) AND U.S. FOREIGN DISASTER
ASSISTANCE (OFDA) AND A FAMINE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM
(FEWSNET) ADVISOR UNDERTOOK A QUALITATIVE FOOD
SECURITY ASSESSMENT THROUGHOUT ZIMBABWE MARCH 17 TO
28. TEAMS INTERVIEWED MORE THAN 60 FARMER
HOUSEHOLDS IN EIGHT PROVINCES AS WELL AS UN, NGO
AND GOZ REPRESENTATIVES. HOUSEHOLD INTERVIEWS
FOCUSED ON COMMUNAL AREAS, WITH ONLY A HANDFUL OF
INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED IN RESETTLED FARMING AREAS.

---------------------------------
PROSPECTS FOR THIS YEAR'S HARVEST
---------------------------------

5. THE MAJORITY OF FARMERS INTERVIEWED ESTIMATED
THAT THIS YEAR'S HARVEST WOULD BE SOMEWHAT BETTER
THAN LAST YEAR'S, WITH PRODUCTION COVERING ZERO TO
SIX MONTHS' NEEDS. OBSERVATIONS OF STANDING CROPS
IN THE FIELD CONFIRMED THAT A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF
HOUSEHOLDS, PARTICULARLY THOSE IN THE MATABELELAND
PROVINCES AND THE SOUTHERN PARTS OF MIDLANDS AND
MASVINGO PROVINCES, WOULD REALIZE LITTLE OR NO
PRODUCTION THIS YEAR.

6. IN THE GENERALLY MORE PRODUCTIVE PROVINCES OF
MASHONALAND (EAST, CENTRAL AND WEST) AND
MANICALAND, LATE RAINS IMPROVED PRODUCTION
PROSPECTS. TOTAL AREAS PLANTED, HOWEVER, HAVE
DECLINED FROM PRIOR HISTORICAL AVERAGES, AND NGOS
POINTED OUT NUMEROUS PREVIOUSLY PRODUCTIVE FIELDS
LYING IDLE. WHILE THIS SURVEY DID NOT INCLUDE FARMS
CONFISCATED UNDER THE FAST-TRACK LAND
REDISTRIBUTION PROGRAM, SOURCES INTERVIEWED
INDICATED THAT PRODUCTION LEVELS ON THESE FARMS,
WHICH PREVIOUSLY ACCOUNTED FOR BETWEEN 25 TO 45
PERCENT OF TOTAL MAIZE PRODUCTION -- MUCH FOR ON-
FARM CONSUMPTION AND STOCK FEED-- WOULD BE POOR.

7. OVERALL, AGGREGATE NATIONAL MAIZE PRODUCTION IS
EXPECTED TO BE HIGHER THAN LAST YEAR, ALTHOUGH WELL
BELOW NATIONAL CONSUMPTION NEEDS. EARLY
INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE HARVEST WILL BE IN THE
NEIGHBORHOOD OF ONE MILLION MT OR MORE. IF
CORRECT, THIS ESTIMATE WOULD BE ROUGHLY 60 PERCENT
OF NATIONAL CONSUMPTION REQUIREMENTS, AND ABOUT
HALF THE LEVEL OF 2000 (ALTHOUGH IT WOULD BE
ROUGHLY DOUBLE THE 2002 LEVEL).

--------------------------------------------- -
IMPLICATIONS FOR FOOD SECURITY AND LIVELIHOODS
--------------------------------------------- -

8. WHILE MOST HOUSEHOLDS HAVE WEATHERED THE CRISIS
UP TO NOW, AS ZIMBABWE ENTERS ITS THIRD CONSECUTIVE
YEAR OF POOR HARVESTS, FOOD SHORTAGES AND ECONOMIC
DECLINE, TEAMS ENCOUNTERED CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT
COPING MECHANISMS HAVE BEEN INCREASINGLY DEPLETED.
MANY HOUSEHOLDS, PRIOR TO RECEIVING FOOD AID, WERE
RESORTING TO ADVERSE COPING MECHANISMS SUCH AS
SELLING PRODUCTIVE ASSETS, CONSUMING UNHEALTHY
FOODS, WITHDRAWING CHILDREN FROM SCHOOL AND
PROSTITUTION.

9. MANY OF THE HOUSEHOLDS VISITED WERE
CHARACTERIZED BY UNUSUALLY HIGH NUMBERS OF ORPHANS,
ABSENCE OF WORKING AGE MEN AND DISPROPORTIONATE
NUMBERS OF WIDOWS, ELDERLY AND CHILD HEADS OF
HOUSEHOLDS. IN THE CONTEXT OF THE GENERAL
DISINTEGRATION OF THE ZIMBABWEAN ECONOMY, FURTHER
DEPLETION OF RURAL HOUSEHOLD ASSETS AND EROSION OF
BASIC RURAL LIVELIHOODS COULD LEAD TO INCREASED
MORTALITY AND REDUCED CAPACITY TO RECOVER IF AND
WHEN CONDITIONS BECOME MORE FAVORABLE.

-----------------------------------------
PROJECTED EMERGENCY FOOD NEEDS IN 2003/04
-----------------------------------------

10. UNDER THE 2002/03 EMERGENCY OPERATION (EMOP),
WFP ESTIMATED THAT THE TOTAL POPULATION IN NEED OF
FOOD AID WOULD PEAK AT 7.2 MILLION BY MARCH 2003
AND THEN DROP OFF IN APRIL 2003 AS THE NEW HARVEST
CAME IN. WFP ACTUAL DISTRIBUTION LEVELS WERE
CONSISTENTLY FAR LESS THAN PLANNED LEVELS DUE TO
PIPELINE AND CAPACITY CONSTRAINTS. NEVERTHELESS,
WFP DISTRIBUTED 53,000 MT IN MARCH 2003 TO 4.6
MILLION BENEFICIARIES (DISTRIBUTIONS THROUGH OTHER
PIPELINES BROUGHT THE TOTAL NUMBER OF BENEFICIARIES
TO 5.7 MILLION). DISTRIBUTION LEVELS ARE EXPECTED
TO FALL BY ABOUT 60 PERCENT IN MAY AND JUNE 2003.
WFP HAS INDICATED THAT IT WILL USE THIS HARVEST
PERIOD TO DEVELOP MORE REFINED TARGETING CRITERIA
TO ENSURE THAT AID IS PROVIDED TO THOSE MOST IN
NEED. THIS SITUATION WILL REQUIRE RENEWED EMPHASIS
ON MONITORING WFP AND OTHER NGO PROGRAM OPERATIONS
TO ENSURE THAT MORE SPECIFIC TARGETING CRITERIA ARE
PROPERLY ADHERED TO.

11. GIVEN THE COMBINATION OF POOR PRODUCTION,
DISFUNCTIONAL FOOD MARKETS AND THE BROADER EFFECTS
OF THE HIV/AIDS AND ECONOMIC CRISES, THE TOTAL
NUMBER OF ZIMBABWEANS REQUIRING FOOD AID BETWEEN
JULY 2003 AND MARCH 2004 WILL BE SIGNIFICANT,
ALTHOUGH AT THIS TIME THE NUMBER IS UNQUANTIFIABLE.
SEVERE SHORTAGES OF FOOD IN LOCAL MARKETS REMAIN A
MAJOR ELEMENT OF THE CRISIS. AT THE CORE OF THE
FOOD AVAILABILITY PROBLEM ARE GOZ POLICIES,
INCLUDING THE GMB MONOPOLY ON MAIZE IMPORTS AND
SALES AND UNREALISTICALLY LOW FIXED PRICES FOR
STRATEGIC FOOD COMMODITIES SUCH AS MAIZE AND WHEAT.

12. WHILE GMB'S PERFORMANCE OVER THE PAST YEAR WAS
AT BEST ERRATIC, IT NONETHELESS DID DELIVER A
SUBSTANTIAL TONNAGE OF FOOD (APPROXIMATELY DOUBLE
THE AMOUNT OF INTERNATIONAL FOOD AID) INTO THE
MARKETS (BOTH THROUGH OFFICIAL SALES AND BLACK
MARKET DIVERSIONS). BUT GIVEN THE DIRE FOREIGN
EXCHANGE POSITION IN WHICH THE GOZ NOW FINDS
ITSELF, THE GMB IS EXPECTED TO HAVE LESS CAPACITY
TO IMPORT FOOD OVER THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS. WHILE
MAIZE PRODUCTION MAY IMPROVE THIS YEAR IN MORE
PRODUCTIVE AREAS, HOUSEHOLDS ARE UNLIKELY TO BE
WILLING TO SELL TO GMB AT CONTROLLED PRICES UNLESS
COERCED. THESE FACTORS WILL SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE
MARKET MAIZE AND WHEAT SUPPLIES, MAKING IT
INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT FOR HOUSEHOLDS IN BOTH URBAN
AND RURAL AREAS TO ACCESS FOOD.

13. AMONG THE MOST VULNERABLE, THE PLIGHT OF UP TO
1.5 MILLION EX-COMMERCIAL FARM WORKERS AND THEIR
FAMILY MEMBERS REMAINS A PRIORITY HUMANITARIAN
CONCERN. LACK OF ACCESS TO EX-COMMERCIAL FARMS
REMAINS AN OBSTACLE TO CONDUCTING A CREDIBLE
ASSESSMENT OF NEEDS.

---------------
RECOMMENDATIONS
---------------

14. FOR ZIMBABWE TO EMERGE FROM THE CURRENT FOOD
SECURITY CRISIS, EMERGENCY FOOD AID IN 2003-04
WOULD HAVE TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY SERIOUS POLICY
REFORMS TO IMPROVE THE SUPPLY OF GRAIN FOR SALE IN
LOCAL MARKETS AND ENSURE ACCESS TO INPUTS NEEDED TO
INCREASE PLANTED AREAS. THE FOLLOWING ARE DCHA
TEAM RECOMMENDATIONS:

A. PROVIDE TARGETED FOOD AID FOR THE PERIOD JULY
2003 THROUGH MARCH 2004 FOR RURAL AREAS WHERE
ASSETS HAVE BEEN DEPLETED AND CURRENT YEAR
PRODUCTION PROSPECTS ARE POOR.

B. BEGIN A TRANSITION FROM GENERAL FOOD
DISTRIBUTIONS TO MORE TARGETED DISTRIBUTION
MECHANISMS INCLUDING FOOD-FOR-WORK.

C. EXPLORE WAYS TO PROVIDE FOOD ASSISTANCE FOR
VULUNERABLE URBAN/PERI-URBAN HOUSEHOLDS THROUGH
MARKET CHANNELS.

D. CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON THE PROVISION OF SEEDS FOR
COMMUNAL FARMERS, AND SUPPORT FOR HUMANITARIAN
COORDINATION AND MONITORING OF DONOR FOOD
DISTRIBUTION.

E. MAINTAIN PRESSURE ON THE GOZ TO PROVIDE ACCESS
TO RESETTLED FARM AREAS SO THAT THE UNMET NEEDS OF
EX-COMMERCIAL FARM WORKERS CAN BE MET BEFORE THEIR
SITUATION DETERIORATES FURTHER.

F. MAINTAIN PRESSURE ON THE GOZ TO ENACT POLICY
REFORMS THAT ALLOW FOOD MARKETS TO OPERATE
EFFECTIVELY AND INCREASE MARKET AVAILABILITY OF
FOOD.

G. DEVELOP A MEDIUM-TERM FOOD SECURITY RECOVERY
STRATEGY FOR ZIMBABWE THAT PROMOTES CROP
DIVERSIFICATION (MORE EXTENSIVE USE OF DROUGHT-
TOLERANT CROPS/VARIETIES) AND IMPROVED WATER
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES.
---------------
MISSION COMMENT
---------------

15. IT MUST BE NOTED THAT ESTIMATES OF PROJECTED CROP
HARVESTS AND SHORTFALLS ARE CURRENTLY A PRIME OBJECT OF
SPECULATION IN HARARE. FEWSNET HAS RELEASED ESTIMATES THAT
PROJECT A MAIZE HARVEST OF APPROXIMATELY 1.3 MILLION MT. IN
SUBSEQUENT INTERVIEWS WITH USAID/HARARE STAFF, HOWEVER,
FEWSNET SAID THAT THE FIGURE IS PROBABLY CLOSER TO 1.1
MILLION MT, AS THEIR PREVIOUS (MARCH) ESTIMATES HAD NOT
SUFFICIENTLY TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT THE SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF
FAILED LATE-YEAR PLANTINGS. (IN ADDITION, THE GOZ CLAIMS TO
HAVE CONTRACTED FOR AN ADDITIONAL 225,000MT NOT YET
DELIVERED.) ON THE OTHER HAND, CURRENT NON-OFFICIAL
GOVERNMENT ESTIMATES RANGE AS HIGH AS 1.5 MILLION MT;
HOWEVER, THE CREDIBILITY OF THESE LATTER ESTIMATES SUFFERS
SERIOUSLY DUE TO GOVERNMENT'S KNOWN DESIRE TO CLAIM SUCCESS
IN ITS DISASTROUS LAND REDISTRIBUTION PROGRAM. A MORE
ACCURATE DETERMINATION OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION YIELDS AND
ASSISTANCE NEEDS WILL BE POSSIBLE ONCE ON-GOING ASSESSMENTS
ARE COMPLETED. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT AND CREDIBLE OF THESE IS
THE JOINT WFP/FAO CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION
(CFSAM) NOW UNDERWAY (WITH FEWSNET ASSISTANCE), WITH RESULTS
EXPECTED BY LATE-MAY. IN ADDITION, MULTIPLE U.N. AGENCIES,
GOZ, NGOS, FEWSNET AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS ARE CURRENTLY
COMPLETING THE LATEST UPDATE OF THE NATIONAL VULNERABILITY
ASSESSMENT (VAC), WITH RESULTS EXPECTED ALSO BY LATE-MAY.
FINALLY, THE RESULTS OF THE NATIONAL NUTRITION AND EPI (CHILD
IMMUNIZATION) SURVEY, COMPLETED BY UNICEF AND THE GOZ, ARE
ALSO EXPECTED TO BE RELEASED SHORTLY. HENCE, THE MISSION
EXPECTS TO HAVE MORE CREDIBLE INFORMATION ON THE
CURRENT/PROJECTED COUNTRY FOOD SECURITY SITUATION WITHIN THE
NEXT FEW WEEKS. WE WILL ADVISE WHEN RECEIVED. SULLIVAN

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