• 17 Jun, 2024
  • United Zimbabwe Alliance

Agriculture and Food Security

Recognizing the vital role that agriculture plays in ensuring food security and sustaining our economy, we are committed to addressing the pressing challenges facing this sector. This communiqué outlines our commitment to fostering a resilient and sustainable agricultural landscape, essential for economic growth and the well-being of our communities.

Current State of Agriculture

Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future. Despite contributing only 11-14 percent to the GDP, the sector provides employment for approximately 70 percent of the population and supplies about 60 percent of all raw materials for industry. Additionally, around 45 percent of the country's exports are agriculturally based. However, recent droughts have led to significant crop failures and livestock losses, severely undermining the agricultural sector. Consequently, the national herd has decreased to 4.9 million, a number significantly lower than the pre-drought figures. The need for innovative solutions and resilient practices has never been more urgent. Formerly known as “the breadbasket of Africa,” Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector has been hampered by ineffective policies, limited access to affordable resources like fertilizer and feed, and water scarcity. As a result, food insecurity is prevalent, with Zimbabweans in both rural and urban areas experiencing malnutrition and poor dietary diversity. As the sector faces unprecedented challenges due to climate change, resource depletion, and population growth.

Why Is Agriculture Important?

Agriculture is fundamental to both business and society due to its crucial outputs, which range from providing raw materials to supporting the global supply chain and fostering economic development.

Providing Raw Materials: Raw materials are the backbone of the global economy. Without them, manufacturers cannot produce goods. While non-agricultural raw materials like steel, minerals, and coal are essential, a significant portion of raw materials comes from agriculture. Examples include: lumber for construction, herbs for culinary use, corn which is used in food production and as a base for ethanol fuel and resins derived from plants, utilized in industrial applications such as adhesives, coatings, and paints.

Creating a Strong Supply Chain: The movement of agricultural products through importing and exporting necessitates robust shipping methods, including ocean freight, rail, and trucking. Any delay in these processes can disrupt the global supply chain. For instance, delays in shipping agricultural products from a Beira port can affect markets in China and vice versa. Such delays can negatively impact regions awaiting these shipments, leading to shortages on store shelves and affecting livelihoods.

Encouraging Economic Development: Agriculture significantly impacts global trade and is intertwined with various economic sectors, thereby supporting job creation and economic growth. Countries with strong agricultural sectors tend to see employment growth in other areas, as noted by USAID. Moreover, nations with high agricultural productivity and well-developed agricultural infrastructure often enjoy higher per capita incomes. This is due to the innovation in technology and farm management practices that boost agricultural productivity and profitability.

Agricultural biodiversity plays a crucial role in ensuring sustainable agriculture, regulating climate change, and fostering technological innovation, particularly in the context of Zimbabwe. This importance can be understood through its contributions to sustainable agricultural practices, climate change regulation, and the adoption of advanced agricultural technologies.

Sustainable Agriculture: Sustainable agricultural practices are vital for maintaining the health and profitability of agricultural land. In Zimbabwe, where agriculture is a primary source of livelihood for a significant portion of the population, the adoption of sustainable methods is critical. These methods, such as crop rotation, organic farming, conservation tillage, and agroforestry, are designed to enhance soil fertility, promote environmental conservation, and minimize ecological impacts. By maintaining soil health through practices that improve soil structure and fertility, farmers can ensure long-term productivity. Environmental conservation is supported by these practices as they promote biodiversity, which in turn supports essential ecosystem services like pollination, pest control, and nutrient cycling. Additionally, sustainable agriculture contributes to climate action by mitigating climate change impacts through reduced greenhouse gas emissions and enhanced carbon sequestration. In essence, sustainable agriculture not only supports the immediate needs of farmers but also secures the ecological foundation for future generations.

Climate Change Regulation: The agricultural sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally, and Zimbabwe is no exception. In countries like the United States, agriculture produced about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, a figure that underscores the environmental impact of traditional farming practices. To address the challenges posed by climate change, it is crucial for Zimbabwe to implement regulation and policy changes that promote sustainable practices within the sector. Such policies can encourage the adoption of farming methods that reduce emissions and improve resilience to climate change. This includes promoting the use of drought-resistant crop varieties, efficient water management techniques, and climate-smart agricultural practices. Furthermore, providing farmers with the necessary guidance and resources to adapt to changing climatic conditions is essential. By doing so, Zimbabwe can not only mitigate the negative impacts of climate change but also enhance the resilience of its agricultural sector, ensuring food security and economic stability.

Agriculture Technology and Innovation: Technological advancements in agriculture are transforming the sector by improving efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. In Zimbabwe, the adoption of modern agricultural technologies can lead to significant benefits. For instance, precision farming, GPS land surveys, and automated machinery can optimize resource use and increase crop production, resulting in higher yields. Innovations such as drip irrigation and the precision application of fertilizers and pesticides help reduce chemical runoff, thereby protecting water quality and minimizing environmental impact. Additionally, technologies that monitor temperature, moisture, and soil conditions enable farmers to make informed decisions, reducing the overuse of water and other natural resources. The integration of these technologies into Zimbabwean agriculture can drive sustainable development, enhance food security, and support economic growth. By embracing technological innovation, Zimbabwe can overcome some of the traditional challenges associated with agriculture and pave the way for a more sustainable and productive future.

Expanding Agricultural Biodiversity in Zimbabwe: To further enhance the role of agricultural biodiversity in Zimbabwe, several strategies can be implemented. Supporting smallholder farmers through training and resources can help them adopt sustainable practices and technologies. This support might include access to financing, technical assistance, and market information, which are crucial for empowering farmers to make sustainable choices. Investing in agricultural research and development is another key strategy. Research can lead to the discovery of new crop varieties, improved pest and disease management techniques, and innovative farming methods. Public-private partnerships can also play a significant role in promoting agricultural biodiversity. These collaborations between the government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations can facilitate knowledge sharing, resource mobilization, and the scaling of successful initiatives. Finally, education and awareness campaigns are essential for promoting the importance of agricultural biodiversity and sustainable practices. By educating farmers, communities, and policymakers, Zimbabwe can foster a culture of sustainability that benefits both the environment and the economy.

Policy Recommendations for Zimbabwe's Agricultural Sector

To address the multifaceted challenges facing Zimbabwe's agricultural sector and enhance its overall productivity and sustainability, the following policy recommendations are proposed:

1) Enhance Agricultural Productivity and Profitability

Improving agricultural productivity and profitability is critical for Zimbabwe's economic growth and food security. This goal can be achieved through several key strategies. Firstly, there must be substantial investment in agricultural research and development to create high-yield and drought-resistant crop varieties tailored to Zimbabwe's unique climatic conditions. Secondly, promoting the adoption of modern farming techniques, such as precision agriculture, can significantly increase efficiency and output. Precision agriculture involves the use of technology to monitor and manage soil and crop health, allowing for the precise application of water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Additionally, ensuring that farmers have consistent access to essential resources like quality seeds, fertilizers, and modern farming equipment is crucial. Strengthening agricultural extension services is also vital; these services provide farmers with the necessary knowledge and skills to implement improved agricultural practices effectively. By focusing on these areas, Zimbabwe can boost the productivity and profitability of its agricultural sector.

2) Strengthen Market Systems

Strengthening market systems is essential for integrating smallholder farmers into the broader economy and ensuring they can sell their products at fair prices. This involves enhancing the capacities of both public and private sector entities involved in agriculture through targeted training and development programs. Capacity building helps these entities support farmers more effectively, providing better services and market access. Encouraging the participation of smallholder farmers in cooperative societies and market associations can improve their bargaining power and access to markets. These organizations can offer collective marketing, bulk purchasing of inputs, and shared resources, which can reduce costs and increase profitability for individual farmers. Improving infrastructure, such as roads, storage facilities, and transportation networks, is also crucial to facilitate easier and more reliable access to markets. This infrastructure development will reduce post-harvest losses and ensure that farmers can transport their produce efficiently, enhancing market integration and economic stability.

3) Enable Access to Finance

Access to finance remains a significant barrier for many farmers in Zimbabwe. Overcoming this challenge requires a multifaceted approach. Promoting financial inclusion policies that allow more farmers to open bank accounts and access credit is essential. Financial services should be tailored to the needs of the agricultural sector, offering flexible repayment terms and low-interest rates. Providing financial literacy training will empower farmers to understand and manage financial products and services effectively. Such training can cover budgeting, saving, borrowing, and investing, helping farmers make informed financial decisions. Additionally, supporting entrepreneurship through grants, low-interest loans, and mentorship programs can stimulate the growth of agricultural enterprises. These enterprises can drive innovation, increase productivity, and create employment opportunities within the sector. By enabling access to finance, Zimbabwe can foster a more resilient and dynamic agricultural economy.

4) Diversify and Improve Household Diets

Improving the nutritional quality of household diets is essential for addressing malnutrition and promoting overall health. This can be achieved through several strategies. Nutrition education campaigns can inform the population about the benefits of a diverse and nutritious diet, emphasizing the importance of consuming a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and protein sources. Promoting the sustainable cultivation and consumption of a variety of nutrient-rich foods is also critical. This can involve encouraging home gardens, community gardens, and the use of indigenous crops that are naturally suited to the local environment. Implementing support programs that assist in the production and distribution of nutritious foods can ensure that these foods are available and affordable for all households. Such programs might include subsidies for nutrient-rich crops, school feeding programs, and food fortification initiatives. By diversifying and improving household diets, Zimbabwe can combat malnutrition and enhance the overall well-being of its population.

5) Improve Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Practices

Improving water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices is fundamental to public health and agricultural productivity. Ensuring reliable access to clean water for both agricultural and household use is a priority. This can be achieved through investments in water infrastructure, such as the construction and maintenance of wells, boreholes, and water harvesting systems. Adequate sanitation facilities must be built and maintained in both rural and urban areas to prevent waterborne diseases and ensure a healthy living environment. Hygiene education programs are also essential to promote practices that prevent the spread of diseases and improve overall health. These programs can teach communities about the importance of handwashing, safe food handling, and proper waste disposal. Improving WASH practices will not only enhance public health but also support agricultural productivity by ensuring that water resources are used efficiently and sustainably.



We reaffirm our commitment to achieving global food security through sustainable agricultural practices and technological innovation. We call upon all stakeholders to collaborate and take immediate action to create a food-secure world. Together, we can ensure a future where agriculture thrives, and every person has access to the food they need to lead healthy and productive lives.