Food Security Analysis

Food security has become a real challenge in village communities such as Macheke because of lack of funding for farmers and there are few local food processing operations within the country. With no funding or subsidies available to support food growers, food production has reduced. This affects the civil servant such as a teacher or a nurse when they go to the grocery store as they are subjected to purchase imported foodstuffs at a much higher price than their $150/month salary will favorably support. Commercial farm laborers make about $65/month and it is even harder for them to afford processed foodstuffs like grain flour and cooking oil. The subsistence farmers may make even less per month, so they are often left out of the cash economy. Smaller communities such as Macheke fall at great risk of not meeting the food needs of the locals, leaving people to struggle to access even one healthy meal each day.

 

Some examples of the more recent challenges being faced in Macheke:

1. A farmer planted 4ha (10acres) of a potato crop. The rains dried out at a time when there was no electricity supply for 6weeks (meaning there was no power to pump water through the irrigation system). The whole potato crop was lost. **Note: A fuel-powered generator may not a viable power solution in this case as fuel in Zimbabwe costs more than $5/gallon and it would be financially unsustainable to run the generator for weeks. A solar or wind energy solution would be ideal in this case but farmers have no funding to invest in renewable power systems.

2. A farmer produced 2ha (5acres) of carrots and delivered them to one of the 2 leading fresh produce traders in the country. The trader did not have cash to pay the farmer because the grocery stores that trader sold to, did not have ready cash to pay for the produce. In turn, the farmer failed to grow crop the next season since they needed that payment to buy seeds and other inputs. Zimbabwe operates on foreign currency (South African Rand and US Dollar), so sometimes the fresh producer trader does not have cash because the bank may not have enough cash available.

3. A farmer received an agricultural loan from a private lender to grow tobacco (as there are no readily available food production loans). The farmer intended to use any profit for food production but there was no profit generated because: (a) the interest rates for the loan were too high and (b) the buyer of the tobacco is the loaner and they under-priced the crop. **Note: With the current issues of food access, using land for tobacco production is deemed unethical, but farmers are stranded as there are no lenders readily supporting food growers.

4. 1ha (2.5acres) of corn/maize costs $700 to produce (labor, fuel, water/power, fertilizer). That 1ha produces about 2tonnes of grain and the market price per ton is $140; meaning that a farmer makes a loss.

**Note: The public price of each ton of maize grain at $245 would be favorable if a farmer could produce 5tonnes on 1ha of maize grown (an old statistic drawn from times when farmers received numerous subsidies and quality fertilizers that allowed them to produce higher yields)

The Macheke Sustainability Project is working closely with Tradkind to execute a chicken production pilot program that can contribute to the solution of food insecurity in Macheke.