Agriculture a Central Tool in Zimbabwean Economic Growth in 2017
Although Zimbabwe's economy has been in recent peril due to government corruption, poor trade policies and infrastructure, overspending, and unsustainability, recent success in agricultural ventures has led to the hope of a better-than-expected fiscal yield for 2017. In fact, coupled with mining, agriculture is expected to be one of the major factors for economic turnaround and increased production for the country.
While drought was a big concern for the success of agriculture during 2015 and 2016, exports of important crops are now expected to surpass the amount sold in several decades. Recent rainfall levels have begun to compensate for the unforgiving dry season in 2015, which is good news for a country with many of its assets based on crop yield. With production and export handling playing as two major factors in the previous decline in the country's economy, focusing long term investments on the agricultural sector is expected to function as an important step forward.
According to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, the original expected financial growth of 1.7 percent has now been increased to a predicted 3.7 percent growth. This is, in part, due to an increase in spending in the agricultural sector, leading to increased yield and productivity. Zimbabwe has traditionally exported large amounts of agricultural goods, indicating a return to the country's successful roots in crop production.
This year's maize crop is expected to play a particularly positive role in economic improvement in the 2017 fiscal period, and is predicted to surpass the amount produced in the past decade. The prior downturn of agriculture in Zimbabwe was blamed on the reallocation of farmland in the year 2000 to non-commercial small farmers, spearheaded by the Zimbabwean government. Chinamasa has predicted the output of maize to come in at an estimated 3 million tons - up last year from the 1 million tons of exported maize crops. Tobacco and cotton production are also looking up, according to Chinamasa. The Finance Minister has suggested an up-front payment plan associated with foreign buyers of exportable goods in Zimbabwe - preferable to credit or plastic currency that could complicate the process.
Another recently-introduced agricultural policy has allowed farmers to purchase certain necessities with the use of credit, which Chinamasa has also pointed to as source of the predicted economic recovery. This process, known as Command agriculture, has produced fantastic results. The success of Command agriculture has led to the planned expansion of the program, which will focus on wheat production during the winter season.
Support for communal farmers has also increased during the agricultural season in Zimbabwe, utilizing government spending to further extend specific necessities to farming households. These include a bag of seeds, compound (D), and a bag of ammonium nitrate. Chinamasa has stated that these incentives are an attempt to bolster agricultural participation in the hopes of further increasing the yield of exportable goods.
There is also some hope that large-scale farmers can be re-introduced into the marketplace, since focusing solely on small farming businesses has led to the underproduction associated with economic decline in the country. If larger farming operations can be persuaded to grow more of Zimbabwe's primary exports - maize, soybeans, tobacco, and cotton; it is expected that the fiscal situation will continue to recover from the past several years of constraint.
Aside from the government corruption and unfavorable economic policies, the redistribution of farmland had been a major factor in damaging international relations between Zimbabwe and vital target countries. A turnaround of these programs and an increased concentration on large-scale farming and farming incentives may be just the breakthrough that Zimbabwe needs to turns its financial situation around.