Macroeconomic and Structural Adjustment Policies in Zimbabwe

By Clever Mumbengegwi | Go to book overview

12
Macroeconomic Policies and Agricultural Performance

CleverMumbengegwi


1 Introduction

This chapter examines the impact of macroeconomic policies on agricultural performance in Zimbabwe since independence, with a specific focus on the growth in aggregate output, price incentives and export performance. Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy – it contributes about 16 per cent to GDP. However, this grossly understates its importance because over 70 per cent of the population derive their livelihoods either directly or indirectly from agriculture and it accounts for at least one-third of formal sector employment. Not only does it provide about 60 per cent of industrial raw materials; it is also an important source of intermediate and final demand for manufacturing output. Thus, agriculture has strong forward and backward linkages with manufacturing and the rest of the economy such that policies that negatively impact on agriculture would have large economy-wide multiplier effects.

Furthermore, Zimbabwe's agriculture is highly tradable. It produces a wide variety of exportable commodities, such as tobacco, cotton, coffee, tea, horticulture and livestock products. Tradable import-competing food crops like maize and wheat are also produced, as are nontradable crops like sorghum, millet and minor grains. At least 40 per cent of the country's export earnings come from agriculture, with tobacco and cotton contributing 75 per cent of total agricultural exports and 30 per cent of total export earnings. A significant proportion of the nation's food requirements (especially wheat, rice and, occasionally, maize) are also imported. Thus, sufficient reasons exist to suspect that macroeconomic policies that affect the relative profitability of tradables vis-à-vis nontradables are likely to have significant impacts on agriculture.

The policy objectives for agriculture since independence have been consistent: to increase the rate of growth in aggregate output; to achieve diversification in output composition; to maintain food security and self-sufficiency; to raise farm incomes and employment; and to increase the

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