|In the 1980s and 1990s Zimbabwe was known as the breadbasket of southern Africa. It was self-sufficient in maize production and had large commercial farms which brought foreign currency into the country through the sale of tobacco and other export crops. Since 2000 the country has seen a dramatic decline in agricultural production and has needed to import maize to address food shortages. For the 2006/2007 marketing season the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) predicted a cereal grains shortfall in Zimbabwe of approximately 22 per cent. |
While there have been some periods of drought during this time, the deficits in agricultural production exceed the levels that would be caused by drought alone (Smith et al., 2006). Western governments claim that the food shortage is the result of government policies in Zimbabwe, particularly a land reform policy that has taken many large farms out of the hands of experienced farmers.
While the causes have been contested by the government, there is no denying that there have been food deficits in Zimbabwe over the last 5 years. In addition remote sensing imagery provides evidence that the large productive commercial farms have been broken into smaller farms. In the August 2001 ASTER image many large farm fields can be seen in bright green. By the time of the August of 2005 ASTER image many of these same farms have been broken into smaller fields. View detailed information