WANDILE SIHLOBO: Zimbabwe not a bread basket but it was self-sufficient
It is inaccurate to say that Zimbabwe was once the bread basket for Africa. Yet Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa told the state-owned Herald newspaper in May that the country is "on track to regain its bread-basket status owing to the highly successful Command Agriculture Programme". While Mnangagwa was not clear on whether Zimbabwe was once a bread basket of Southern Africa or the entire continent, his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, often claimed continental success. Fellow agricultural economist Sifiso Ntombela and I found in an Africa Check essay in 2017, aimed at assessing whether Zimbabwe was ever a bread basket for Africa, that it was not. What we did find, however, was that Zimbabwe had been a self-sufficient food producer until its land reform programme was instituted. In our view, a country should be able to meet its staple food consumption needs and simultaneously command a notable share in exports of the same food commodity to be considered a "bread basket". An examin...
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