Agriculture plays a pivotal role in Zimbabwe’s economy and is a key part of the country’s efforts to reduce poverty. About 70% of the population depends on agriculture for food, income and employment. It supplies 60% of the raw materials required by the industrial sector and contributes to about 40% of total export earnings. It also contributes 16.1 % of the GDP.
The performance of agriculture has a strong influence on the rate of economic growth, economic stability, employment levels, demand for other goods, and on food security as well as poverty reduction. More importantly, increased agricultural productivity provides the spur to economic development.
Zimbabwe has a landmass area of approximately 39 million hectares. Of this total, 33.1million is under agriculture and the rest is for national parks and urban settlements. Agriculture is Zimbabwe is mostly rain fed and rainfall distribution varies from one ecological region to the other.
Zimbabwe ‘s agricultural sector constitutes two distinct farming systems; namely the smaller holder sector that is characterized by small land holdings and labour intensive farming practices, and large-scale commercial sector that is highly mechanized and used large tracts of land. In addition to these two sub-sectors there are A1 and A2 farms allocated to people as part of the Land Reform Programme, small-scale commercial farms (formerly known as Purchase Areas) and Resettlement Schemes.
Agricultural Practices on A1 farms, Purchase Areas and Resettlement Schemes are quite similar to those in the smallholder sector while A2 farmers tend to have relatively larger pieces of land and are more mechanized. Yield in the communal areas, A1, small scale commercial farms and resettlement schemes and A2 are very low sync that there is great potential for productivity gains.
Crop Production is highly diversified, consisting of tobacco, maize, cotton, wheat, sorghum, groundnuts, soya beans, coffee, sugar, tea, horticultural products and sunflower, among others. The most important of these is tobacco and cotton and horticultural products which are export crops. Maize is largely for domestic consumption and is central to the country’s food security.
Livestock production consists mainly of cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and poultry. Small holder sector owns 98% of goats, 80% of pigs. Amongst the small holder sector, 55% of households own cattle, 70% own goats and 80% own chickens.
Cattle population currently stands at 5 million, compared to 6.18 million in 2000. Of the 5 million cattle, only 650,000 are found in A2 farms and large-scale commercial farms. Compared to 2.9 million cattle that were in commercial farms in 1999. Off-take from the former commercial sector, which used to be about 20%, has declined as most producers are focusing more on herd rebuilding. Dairy production has also been declining from above 100,000 dairy cows in 2000 to about 38,000 dairy cows in 2008.
- National Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development Programme.
- Livestock Capacity Building.
- Rehabilitation of Cattle Infrastructure.
- Pig Industry Board/Poultry