Small grain markets in Zimbabwe: the food security implications of national market policy
Rohrbach, David D.
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Over 60% of Zimbabwe’s farmland lies in drought prone regions receiving an average of less than 650 mm annual rainfall. This includes 75% of the nation’s smallholder farming areas. Yet, only 15% of Zimbabwe’s cereal supplies are provided by the relatively more drought tolerant small grains: red and white sorghum, bulrush millet, and finger millet. Roughly 70% of national cereal calories are provided by maize. Consumption of wheat, 10-20% of which is normally imported, holds secondary importance. This paper argues that the construction of a market policy more attuned to Zimbabwe’s agroclimatic comparative advantage requires an improved understanding of the determinants of small grains supply and demand. The different production opportunities facing large- and small-scale farmers must be considered. Producer pricing strategies must be balanced against consumer market requirements. The opportunities for expanding small grain utilization by industry require consideration.