The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund has approved a grant of around $25.65 million to help Zimbabwe enhance domestic food production and supply. The funds were drawn from the Transition Support Facility (TSF), although the Board provided a waiver, to assist Zimbabwe to mitigate against a possible food crisis. Zimbabwe is in debt and in arrears and therefore is ineligible for TSF resources.
On 15 July, the African Development Fund, the concessional arm of the African Development Bank Group, granted the country an exemption from debt-related eligibility criteria, given the severity of its circumstances.
The project will be implemented at community and national levels to support farmers to raise food production to mitigate the impact of inadequate rainfall during the last growing season and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, on food prices in the short term and build longer-term food security. The main objective of the project is to increase cereal and oil seed production, boost fertilizer distribution and provide policy support over the next two years.
It falls under the African Development Bank’s $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility, a response to the global crisis that has deepened shortages in many African countries. In Zimbabwe, it will focus on key agricultural commodities, namely wheat, maize, and oilseeds, including soybeans and sunflower, in line with the commodities impacted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“This $25.65 million project aims to mitigate the food insecurity situation in Zimbabwe, which results from a poor agriculture season due to rainfall deficits and the impacts of the Russia/Ukraine conflict. The conflict has contributed to a sharp rise in commodity prices, including food and farm inputs, such as fertilizer and seed,” said Leila Mokaddem, the Bank’s Director General in southern Africa.
“This project is in line with the Bank’s Zimbabwe strategy to support the private sector and agriculture productivity and sustainability as well as developing related value chains,” Mokaddem said.
The African Emergency Food Production Facility will distribute certified seeds and fertilizer to 180,000 beneficiaries, including around 70,000 women, in the eight farming provinces of Zimbabwe, namely Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and the Midlands. It will make use of ICT-based platforms and the existing private sector-based distribution channels.
Maize production is expected to increase from 2 to 4 metric tons per hectare. High-yielding varieties of oil seeds (soybean and sunflower) are expected to produce an additional 40,000 hectares, targeting total output of 400,000 metric tons.
The World Food Program has identified Zimbabwe as one of 20 countries globally that need the most urgent support due to rainfall deficits that cut 2022 cereal production below average and caused permanent crop wilting in four provinces. The country has also suffered persistently high inflation rates, that has eroded the purchasing power of the vulnerable sections of the population.
In addition, the country’s fertilizer stocks have been hit by the conflict in Eastern Europe, from where it imports half of its fertilizer. It also imports 55% of its wheat from the region to meet its 400,000 metric tons annual requirement.
The farming inputs will be delivered to beneficiary farmers through innovative financing, using a transparent and accountable electronic platform. To improve efficiency and productivity, it will employ extension systems based on the African Development Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative (TAAT) which has boosted agricultural output in several countries, thanks to climate-smart agricultural practices.
The project will also support the Zimbabwean government’s implementation of agriculture and trade policy reforms that create an enabling environment to support market-led input distribution and import and export markets.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development is the executing agency of the project, to be implemented by the Food and Agricultural Organization.