World Grain - October 2020 - 22

COUNTRY FOCUS

FOCUS ON

ZIMBABWE
Currency crisis, bad weather limits
grain output in food insecure country
by Chris Lyddon

Zimbabwe faces the challenge of feeding its people against a
background of scarce access to currency limiting its farming industry's access to inputs and its processing industry's access to
imported grain. This year, adverse weather cut grain output, adding to the issues faced.
The International Grains Council (IGC) puts Zimbabwe's
corn production at 900,000 tonnes in 2020-21, up from 800,000
the year before. It forecasts the country's total grains imports at
900,000 tonnes in 2020-21, up from 800,000 in 2019-20.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
in a June 25 Country Brief on Zimbabwe, puts the country's corn
production at 908,000 tonnes, up 16.9% on the previous year's
level. It puts the wheat crop at 100,000 tonnes, up 25%, and sorghum at 104,000 tonnes, up 150.6%. Noting that harvesting of
the main season crops was expected to be completed by the end
of June, the FAO explained that although the corn crop is up on
¶VOHYHOLWLVGRZQRQWKH¿YH\HDUDYHUDJH
³7KHORZFURSSURGXFWLYLW\UHÀHFWVSRRUWHPSRUDOUDLQIDOOGLVWULEXWLRQWKDWSDUWLFXODUO\D൵HFWHG\LHOGVLQWKHFRPPXQDOIDUPing sector, where use of inputs, notably fertilizers, is limited,"
the FAO said. "In addition to the reduced yields, a
VPDOOFRQWUDFWLRQLQWKHSODQWHGDUHDUHÀHFWing limited access to mostly imported
agricultural inputs, amid sustained
FXUUHQF\ZHDNQHVVDQGKLJKLQÀDtion rates, further contributed to
the low corn output in 2020."
In a June 15, 2020, report on
Zimbabwe's grains sector, the
USDA attaché in Pretoria,
South Africa, said the 202021 corn crop was estimated
at 907,628 tonnes, compared
with 776,635 tonnes the previous year.
"However, Zimbabwe still
recorded below-average yields
due to an extremely challenging
and climatically sub-optimal summer crop season," the report said.
22

KEY FACTS
Capital: Harare
Population: 14,546,314 (July 2020 est.)
Religions: Protestant 75% (includes Apostolic 38%,
Pentecostal 22%, other 16%), Roman Catholic 7%,
other Christian 5%, traditional 1%, Muslim 0.5%,
other 0.1%, none 10% (2015 est.).
Location: Southern Africa, between South Africa and
Zambia.
Government: Presidential republic. Chief of state
and head of government is President Dambudzo
Mnangagwa (since Nov. 24, 2017).
Economy: Zimbabwe's economy depends heavily on its mining and agriculture sectors. Following
a contraction from 1998 to 2008, the economy recorded real growth of more than 10% per year in
the period 2010-13, before falling below 3% in the
period 2014-17, due to poor harvests, low diamond
revenues, and decreased investment. Lower mineral
prices, infrastructure and regulatory deficiencies, a
poor investment climate, and a large public and external debt burden, impede the country's economic
performance. Until early 2009, the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) routinely printed money to fund the
budget deficit, causing hyperinflation. Adoption of a
multi-currency basket in early 2009 reduced inflation below 10% per year. In January 2015, as part
of the government's effort to boost trade and attract
foreign investment, the RBZ announced that the Chinese renmimbi, Indian rupee, Australian dollar, and
Japanese yen would be accepted as legal tender in
Zimbabwe, though transactions were predominantly
carried out in US dollars and South African rand until
2016, when the rand's devaluation and instability led
to near-exclusive use of the US dollar. The government in November 2016 began releasing bond notes,
a parallel currency legal only in Zimbabwe, which the
government claims will have a one-to-one exchange
ratio with the US dollar, to ease cash shortages. Bond
notes began trading at a discount of up to 10% in the
black market by the end of 2016. Zimbabwe's government entered a second Staff Monitored Program
with the IMF in 2014 and undertook other measures
to reengage with international financial institutions.
Zimbabwe repaid roughly $108 million in arrears to
the IMF in 2016, but financial observers note that
Zimbabwe is unlikely to gain new financing because
the government has not disclosed how it plans to repay more than $1.7 billion in arrears to the World
Bank and African Development Bank.
GDP per capita: $2,300 (2017 est.); inflation: 0.9%
(2017 est.); unemployment: 11.3% (2014 est.).
Currency: Zimbabwean dollars (ZWD): 361 Zimbabwean dollars equal 1 US dollar (Sept. 21, 2020).
note: the dollar was adopted as a legal currency in
2009; since then the Zimbabwean dollar has experienced hyperinflation and is essentially worthless.
Exports: $4.353 billion (2017 est.): platinum, cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles/clothing.
Imports: $5.472 billion (2017 est.): machinery and
transport equipment, other manufactures, chemicals,
fuels, food products.
Agriculture: 12% (2017 est.) of GDP and 67.5% of
the labor force.
Internet: Code: .zw; 3,796,618 users.
Source: CIA World Factbook

October 2020 / World Grain / www.World-Grain.com


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World Grain - October 2020

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World Grain - October 2020 - 1
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