Search

 

Cablegate: Zimbabwe Food Security Projections for 2003/04:

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

201326Z May 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 HARARE 000978

SIPDIS

SADC REGIONAL COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY ROME

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
GABORONE FOR FLEURET, MULLINS AND DORMAN
ROME FOR FODAG FOR LAVELLE, DAVIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL US ZI
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE FOOD SECURITY PROJECTIONS FOR 2003/04:
THE CRISIS ISN'T OVER YET


1. ACTION: THIS CABLE IS FOR AMBASSADOR J. SULLIVAN'S
IMMEDIATE ATTENTION FOR USE IN CONJUNCTION WITH HIS TDY
CONSULTATIONS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

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

2. Summary: The final Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment
Committee (ZIMVAC) April (2003) update and joint U.N. World
Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) report
have not yet been released, despite promises of release for
the past several weeks. According to highly reliable
sources, Zimbabwe's total maize production for the
recent/current (2002/03) harvest is estimated at 820,000
Metric Tons (MT), an approximately 65 percent (%) increase
over last year's result. When combined with the estimated
production levels of other cereal crops (wheat, millets),
total cereals production in 2002/03 is estimated at
1,035,000 MT. Adding various modest amounts of estimated
carryover stocks, winter maize production, remaining food
aid (pipeline) stocks and other miscellaneous on-farm stocks
results in an estimated 950,000 MT of total available maize
and 1,200,000 MT of all cereals for the 2003/04
marketing/consumption year.

3. Applying the new reduced population estimate from the
latest census in 2002, Zimbabwe's projected food needs in
2003/04 are estimated at 1,675,000 MT for maize only, and
2,205,000 MT for all cereals. If one reduces these figures
to human consumption requirements only, total national
requirements for maize are estimated at 1,425,000 MT, and
human requirements for all cereals are estimated at
1,955,000 MT.

4. Based on these figures, Zimbabwe's estimated food gap
amounts to 725,000 MT for maize only, and about 1 million MT
for all cereals for the 2003-04 marketing/consumption year
(through April 2004). Similarly, if one removes the non-
human (livestock/other) portion of these amounts, the 2003-
04 maize gap is reduced to about 485,000 MT, and the total
cereals gap to about 725,000 MT. Finally, accounting for
approximately 275,000 MT of already confirmed/planned food
imports from various sources, the final projected Zimbabwe
maize deficit would be 485,000 MT (235,000 MT without
livestock/other non-human requirements), and 725,000 MT for
all cereals (475,000 MT without livestock/other non-human
requirements).

5. At current international market rates, these imports will
cost approximately US$100 million for maize, and $150
million for all cereals. Given the current sorry state of
GOZ finances, it remains highly questionable how much of
this food import requirement the government will be able to
meet. The Mission hopes to have preliminary estimates of
this amount shortly. Until we receive this information, it
will remain difficult to determine projected international
and USG food assistance requirements for this year.
However, although clearly less than last year's
requirements, the magnitude and localized geographic and
socio-economic distribution of the need, in combination with
failed local markets, suggest that food aid will continue to
be required in 2003/04. If one assumes that a 50/50 split
between government and international donors might be a
reasonable estimate for meeting this food gap, international
donor food aid requirements would amount to approximately
250,000 MT for maize, and 375,000 MT for all cereals.
Assuming the USG maintains its contribution at its current
40% share of the total requirements, USG food assistance to
Zimbabwe would amount to between 100,000 and 150,000 MT of
food, valued at between approximately US$55 and $82 million.
The emphasis for such assistance would be on the southern
and western areas of the country, which experienced large-
scale or total crop failures this year, and on specific
highly vulnerable groups.

6. The Mission will provide more details on these subjects
as soon as the aforementioned final ZIMVAC and CFSAM reports
are released. End Summary.

---------------------------------
THE 2002/03 CROP HARVEST FORECAST
---------------------------------

7. Although the final ZIMVAC April 2003 update and the
WFP/FAO CFSAM report are not yet officially released, the
2003/04 crop production and vulnerability estimates for
Zimbabwe are close to final. According to highly reliable
sources, the projected 2002/03 production figure for maize
will be about 820,000 MT. Although 65% higher than last
year's dismal production (498,500 MT), this total remains
only 55% of production in 2000/01 (1,476,240 MT) and less
than half (48%) of Zimbabwe's 1990s average maize production
(1,705,825 MT), signifying the continuing negative impact of
erratic weather, the government's chaotic land
redistribution program and its gross policy failures over
the past several years affecting all aspects of the
agricultural production system including on-farm operations,
producer incentives and shortages of essential agricultural
inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and draught power (fuel).
Other cereals' production (wheat, millet) is expected to be
similar to last year's levels (150,000 MT and 65,000 MT,
respectively). This yields a total projected cereal
production for 2002/03 in Zimbabwe of 1,034,500 MT (over 40%
higher than last year's 726,000 MT, but also less than half
of normal/average cereal production in Zimbabwe). When one
adds modest amounts of estimated carryover stocks (maize -
26,000 MT, all cereals - 62,000 MT), an estimated 10,000 MT
of winter maize production, about 93,000 MT of available
food aid (pipeline) stocks and a small amount (3,000 MT) of
unmonitored on-farm stocks to these totals, total maize
availability for 2003/04 in Zimbabwe rises to about 950,000
MT, and the availability of all cereals increases to
1,202,000 MT.

------------------------------------
THE PROJECTED 2003/04 FOOD AID NEEDS
------------------------------------

8. Applying the new reduced population estimate from the
latest (2002) census of 11,770,000 people (reduced from
13,600,000 population figure used last year), Zimbabwe's
projected food needs in 2003/04 are estimated at 1,675,000
MT for maize only, and 2,205,000 MT for all cereals,
including 177,000 MT of millet and 341,000 MT of wheat, as
well as 250,000 MT of maize for livestock and other non-
human purposes. If one reduces these figures to human
consumption requirements only, total national maize
requirements are estimated at 1,425,000 MT, and all cereals
human requirements are estimated at 1,955,000 MT. Note:
Although some have questioned the methodology of the census
and, hence, the accuracy of the reduced population figures,
these reduced numbers are widely accepted by donors in light
of the rapid increase in outward migration and increased
deaths from HIV/AIDS. End Note.

9. Based on these figures, Zimbabwe's estimated food gap
amounts to 725,000 MT for maize only, and about 1 million MT
for all cereals for the 2003-04 marketing/consumption year
(through April 2004). Similarly, if one removes the non-
human (livestock/other) portion of these amounts, the 2003-
04 maize gap is estimated at 485,000 MT, and the total
cereals gap at 725,000 MT. Note: While this gap compares
favourably to last year's estimated deficit of approximately
1.3 million MT for maize and approximately 1.5 million MT
for all cereals, a large proportion of this reduction is
attributable to the reduced national consumption requirement
due to the revised population figure noted above. Hence,
the significant reduction in the estimated 2003/04 food gap
is attributable both to increased supply, through the
increased production (+65%) in the 2002/03 growing season,
as well as reduced demand, through the decreased national
consumption requirement (-17%) for the 2003/04
marketing/consumption year. End Note.

10. Best available estimates indicate that approximately
275,000 MT of imports have already been purchased/programmed
for Zimbabwe for arrival over the coming months. This total
projected import figure includes approximately 95,000 MT of
food aid (including 80,000 MT of maize and 15,000 MT of
millets) and 180,000 MT of commercial imports (including
160,000 MT of maize and 20,000 MT of wheat). Note:
Reliable figures are not yet available for wheat due to the
later timing and increased uncertainty regarding this winter
crop, grown primarily by Zimbabwe's former white commercial
farmers. However, preliminary figures estimate an
approximate 163,000 MT deficit for this critical urban
market commodity this marketing/consumption year. End Note.
Taking these confirmed import plans into account yields a
final projected Zimbabwe maize deficit of 485,000 MT (or
235,000 MT without livestock/other non-human requirements),
and 725,000 MT for all cereals (or 475,000 MT without
livestock/other non-human requirements). Note: The
projected food aid imports appear to be reasonable on the
basis of available country information. However, the
commercial import numbers remain to be verified, principally
with the Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) parastatal Grain
Marketing Board (GMB). Also, these figures include no
provision for any strategic food reserve or buffer/carryover
stocks at the end of the marketing/consumption year in April
2004. End Note.

-------------------------
VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
-------------------------

11. According to reliable sources, the April ZIMVAC update
will indicate that a total estimated maximum of 3.9 million
rural Zimbabweans would be at severe risk due to food
insecurity by the end of the 2003/04 marketing/consumption
year. Note: The ZIMVAC did not explicitly assess urban
population needs, which, according to reasonable estimates,
could add as many as 1 million additional people to this
figure. End Note. As might be expected, given local
planting/harvest seasons, the total estimated numbers of
vulnerable people increase throughout the year, from a low
of 600,000 people in April/May 2003 to the 3.9 million
maximum starting in January 2004. Geographically, these
people are primarily situated in the poorer, drier and
chronically food insecure regions of southern and western
Zimbabwe, including Matebeleland North and South and some of
the central and southern parts of Midlands, Masvingo, and
Manicaland Provinces. However, "pockets" of severe
vulnerability also exist within other similarly poor areas
of the country that experienced major/total crop failures
this year (e.g., northern areas of the Mashonaland, Midlands
and Manicaland Provinces), as well as within specific socio-
economic groups, such as ex-commercial farm workers, "fast-
track" resettlers and the urban poor.

----------------------------
EXISTING COUNTRY CONSTRAINTS
----------------------------

12. GOZ Finances: The above estimates suggest that Zimbabwe
will require a total of 725,000 MT of maize imports in the
2003/04 marketing consumption year, including 485,000 MT of
new/additional imports (including 250,000 MT of
livestock/other non-human requirements). Similarly, the
country will require a total of about 1 million MT of all
cereals imports this year, including about 725,000 MT of
new/additional imports (including 250,000 MT of
livestock/non-human requirements). At current international
market rates, these additional food imports will cost
approximately US$100 million for maize (@ US$ 200/MT), and
$150 million for all cereals (applying the current estimated
commercial market cost of wheat for Zimbabwe of US$ 200/MT
for the additional "other cereal" amounts, as wheat will
comprise the bulk of these additional requirements). Given
the current sorry state of GOZ finances, it remains highly
questionable how much of this additional FX food import
requirement the government will be able to meet. The
Mission hopes to have preliminary estimates of this amount
shortly.

13. Domestic Markets: Given the significant remaining
numbers of vulnerable populations and their localized
geographic and socio-economic situation, it remains highly
doubtful that significant quantities of grain from surplus-
producing areas in the north will be effectively
redistributed at affordable prices to those most in need in
the southern and western grain-deficit areas of the country.
This doubt stems from several factors. First, although the
GOZ has raised producer prices for the major cereals to more
attractive levels, these new prices still fall well short of
international/regional market parity. Hence, it remains
questionable how much "surplus" grain will actually be sold
to/purchased by the GMB for redistribution through market
channels (as opposed to being retained for own/family use
and/or sold through illicit black market or cross-border
channels). Second, the significant "distortions" observed
in last year's food markets, through such practices as
hoarding, corruption, black marketeering and
biased/selective sales/distributions, raise serious doubts
regarding whether this year's markets will function any more
effectively under even more localized conditions of
continuing food scarcity. As a result, the reduced gap
cited above may not necessarily translate into increased
access for Zimbabwe's most vulnerable populations. Third,
any limited quantities of food which do become available for
sale through local normal (or black) markets will likely be
unaffordable for the vulnerable target population, who have
already depleted most of their limited assets and exhausted
most other coping mechanisms. And, finally,
continued/increasing FX and fuel shortages are expected to
place continuing severe constraints on government efforts to
transport food to where it is required. For these reasons,
continued, more targeted food assistance will be required to
help address these market failures and ensure that those
particular vulnerable groups and areas that truly need help
can get it.

14. Urban Requirements: Wheat - a primary food staple of
the urban poor - is already in extremely short supply in
Zimbabwe (with formal opening stocks estimated at about
28,000 MT or about one month's supply). With no significant
harvest expected for this winter crop until October (2003),
this situation is only expected to worsen over the coming
months. In the absence of affordable wheat, urban consumers
will have no choice but to continue to substitute available
maize meal to meet their daily food requirements. This
additional demand (estimated as high as 15,000 MT/month)
will place significant pressure on the limited maize stocks
that do manage to make it into local markets.


----------------------------------------
PROJECTED DONOR FOOD RELIEF REQUIREMENTS
----------------------------------------

15. In the absence of stated government plans for projected
additional commercial food imports, it is difficult to
determine what the total international food relief
requirements will be over the 2003/04 marketing/consumption
year. However, although clearly less than last year's
requirements, the magnitude and localized geographic and
socio-economic distribution of the need, in combination with
failed local markets, suggest that food aid will continue to
be required in 2003/04, especially during the "hungry"
season when this year's harvests run out. If one assumes a
reduced government capacity to meet these continuing
substantial food import requirements this year, a 50/50
split between government and international donors might be a
reasonable estimate for meeting this food gap (as opposed to
the approximate 3/1 split which occurred last year).
According to this "ballpark" estimate, international donor
food aid requirements would amount to approximately 250,000
MT for maize, and 375,000 MT for all cereals. Assuming
further that the USG maintains its contribution at its
current 40% share of total requirements, USG food assistance
to Zimbabwe would amount to between 100,000 and 150,000 MT
of food, valued at between approximately US$55 and $82
million. Note: The increased cost of this USG assistance
relative to the global commercial estimates cited above
results from the additional international transport,
shipping and handling/management (ITSH) costs associated
with official USG assistance. End Note. For comparative
purposes, these estimated requirements are approximately
between 50% and 75% of total USG contributions to Zimbabwe
over the past year.

16. The emphasis of food assistance over the coming year
should be on the southern and western areas of the country
which experienced large-scale or total crop failures this
year, and on specific highly vulnerable groups, such as
children (especially, but not exclusively under five years
of age), pregnant and/or lactating mothers, the elderly,
chronically ill and disabled, female and child-headed
households, those affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, and
special socio-economic groups such as ex-commercial farm
workers and the urban poor. Based primarily on the ZIMVAC
results noted above, revised eligibility criteria and
targeting procedures are now being developed in accordance
with these more selective food aid targeting requirements.
Note: The controversial issue of international assistance
for newly resettled "fast-track" farmers remains a subject
which needs to be addressed; however, it is significant to
note that needs appear to be minimal among this group with
only 20% of the population reported to require external
assistance. End Note.

---------------
MISSION COMMENT
---------------

17. While the country's food security situation is certainly
much improved over this time last year, the magnitude and
nature of the needs suggests that food assistance will
continue to be required over the next marketing/consumption
year, especially during the "hungry" season when this year's
harvests run out. The major outstanding question is what
proportion of the estimated food gap/import requirements
will government be able to cover through its own means,
given the deplorable state of the country's finances and
credit, and the many critical competing demands on scarce
available FX. Government is currently reviewing these
figures, and we hope to receive a response to this question
in the near future. The Mission will advise on this
information as soon as it is received.

18. Note: The Mission has just learned that government is
disputing some of the figures in ZIMVAC cited above. While
it is unclear exactly which numbers the government is
contesting, given the politics surrounding the current
country situation, the Mission expects that the basic
(maize) production figures cited above are at the center of
this dispute. While this predictable development will
probably serve to delay the release of the final ZIMVAC
update report, it is not/not expected to significantly alter
the estimates provided herein (which are also well supported
by the anticipated WFP/FAO CFSAM results). Hence, the
Mission recommends that, at least for the time being, these
numbers remain the focus of future USG planning discussions
for the on-going food security crisis in Zimbabwe. End
Note. #Whitehead

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


Myanmar: UN Condemns Escalating Violence In Deadliest Day Of Protests So Far

In response to the killing of at least 18 protesters demonstrating against Myanmar’s military coup, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) on Sunday together with the UN chief, strongly condemned the “escalating violence” and called for an immediate end to the use of force... More>>

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs


UNFCCC: Greater Climate Ambition Urged As Initial NDC Synthesis Report Is Published

UN Climate Change today published the Initial NDC Synthesis Report, showing nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise by 2°C—ideally 1.5°C—by the end of the century... More>>


2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>


Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at webtv.un.org UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>