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Cablegate: Is Goz Planning to Double Maize 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 02 HARARE 001636

SIPDIS

AID FOR DCHA/FFP LANDIS, CRUMBLY, MUTAMBA,
PETERSEN
DCHA/OFDA FOR KHANDAGLE, ETTI, MARX, HALMRAST-
SANCHEZ
AFR/SA FOR FLEURET, LOKEN, COPSON, MACNAIRN
STATE/AF FOR NEULING
BRUSSELS FOR PATRICIA LERNER
PRETORIA FOR, DISKIN, HALE, SINK, REYNOLDS
NAIROBI FOR SMITH, BROWN
GABORONE FOR CASHION, BROWN
ROME FOR FODAG FOR GAST


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL US ZI
SUBJECT: IS GOZ PLANNING TO DOUBLE MAIZE PRODUCTION
THIS COMING YEAR?

--------
Summary
--------

1. For the 2004/2005 agricultural season the
Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) seems to be planning for a
substantial increase in maize (corn) production above
its claimed 2.4 million MT for the recent harvest.
Seed companies reported to USAID General Development
Officer that the Government requested them to supply 75
000 MT of maize seed, which would be enough to plant 3
million hectares (the resulting yield would depend on
various factors, such as rain and access to
fertilizer). Zimbabwe's largest maize harvest,
planted on 1.6 million hectares in 1996, required
40,000 MT of seed.

------------------
Seed Requirements
------------------

2. Current unsubstantiated estimates by government put
the amount of locally available maize seed at 55,000
MT. However, the seed companies can confirm the
availability of only 45,000 MT in-country, and
speculate that the additional reported 10,000 MT may
represent production from Government seed farms and
seed leftover from last year's purchases. During the
1990s, an average of 36,000 MT of maize seed was used
per year. Depending on the final availability of local
seed, at least 20,000 MT of maize seed would need to be
imported to reach the 75,000 MT the GOZ says it
requires. The estimated cost of procuring 55,000 MT
of maize locally would be the equivalent of around 60
million USD, with another 20 million USD needed to
import the additional 20,000 MT of maize seed.

-------------------------------------------
Seed Price Negotiations, Seed Availability
-------------------------------------------

3. Negotiations between government and seed companies
over price are still ongoing. As a result, seed maize
is not readily available on the market. If the
government follows through with its request for 75,000
MT of maize seed there will be very little maize seed
available on the retail market for Zimbabwean farmers
to purchase. Seed companies plan to allocate most of
their stocks for sale to the government, leaving only
small amounts of seed for retailers.

-------------------
Seed Distribution
-------------------

4. How the GOZ plans to deliver so much maize seed in
Zimbabwe remains a mystery. The GOZ will likely
distribute the maize seed to the new resettlement areas
where the land is considered the most productive.
However, many farmers in these areas would prefer to
plant a crop whose price is not controlled by the
government. Distribution of seed to the communal
farmers through GOZ channels, rather than by private
dealers, would pose logistic problems. Vulnerable
households who lack funds, draft power and
transportation to GOZ seed distribution points may not
benefit much from this massive seed infusion.

-----------
Conclusion
-----------

5. The GOZ continues to insist that it does not need
food aid and appears to be taking steps to ensure that
this statement becomes reality, and not just rhetoric.
If the government secures at least 50,000 MT of maize
seed, which is a possibility, and if that amount is
effectively distributed and planted under normal
conditions with an average yield of .8 MT per hectare,
it would produce a maize harvest of 1.6 million MT. If
these assumptions bear out, there would be enough
domestic production of maize for the 2005 harvest to
meet the country's food needs. Lack of transparency on
the part of GOZ, however, leaves donors guessing as to
the intended plans for the seed and given the number of
things that could go wrong in this equation, the GOZ's
luck will have to be very good indeed to reach these
figures. DELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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