Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Impact of HIV & AIDS on agriculture and food security from Zimbabwe: Empirical analysis of two districts in Zimbabwe
Prepared for FANRPAN by: Reneth Mano & Innocent Matshe
Dept of Agricultural Economics & Extension, University of Zimbabwe

Executive summary

  1. Background

    Smallholder agriculture, once a strong and resilient backbone of Zimbabwe's national food security strategy, is under serious threat from the devastation of HIV and AIDS pandemic. Understanding the complex dimension and dynamics of HIV and AIDS threat to smallholder agriculture and food security is important especially for deriving policy insights on how to cushion the sector from HIV and AIDS damages. The Zimbabwe team of specialists joined forces with peers from other SADC countries to undertake a regionally coordinated country studies to assess impact of HIV and AIDS on Smallholder Agriculture and Food Security. The manuscript presents the report on the Zimbabwe study.

  2. The Objectives

    The fundamental objective of the study was to generate insights for policy planners and development practitioners on how to mitigate impact of HIV and AIDS on agriculture. To achieve this objective the study sought the following specific objectives:

    1. To develop a comprehensive framework for assessing impact of HIV and AIDS on agriculture and food security performance of smallholder farmers
    2. To explore the macroeconomic issues driving HIV and AIDS pandemic and assess the efficacy of responses from state and non-state actors in modulating impact of HIV and AIDS on Smallholder Sector
    3. To explore the extent and processes by which HIV and AIDS is affecting agriculture and food security performance of smallholder sector in the presence of other stress factors
    4. To identify aspects of smallholder farming system most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS damages
    5. To verify gender dimensions of vulnerability of smallholder farmers to the impacts of HIV and AIDS?

  3. Research Approach

    Informed by the current thinking in the literature, the study develops and applies a comprehensive impact assessment framework, which combines macroeconomic dimensions with household level socioeconomic impacts and adaptive responses.

    The study uses primary data obtained through a cross sectional single period survey of 350 agricultural households in the Goromonzi District of Mashonaland East and Makoni District of Manicaland. Working in collaboration with local agencies, the team was able to apply a stratified sampling and separately targeting HIV and AIDS affected population to constitute 50% of the sample while less affected families constituted the remainder.

    To measure impact of HIV and AIDS on families, comparison of performance of 'affected with versus not (i.e. less) affected households is made. Given that almost all families are affected, the study computed measures of severity and econometric techniques to ascertain significance of HIV and AIDS in explaining differences in agricultural choices and performances between affected and less affected households.

  4. The Findings

    The study confirms that HIV and AIDS pandemic is generally negatively affecting the performance of smallholder agriculture and in particular their food security prospects. However smallholder agricultural populations have once again proved very resilient and innovative in minimizing impact of HIV and AIDS losses on their agricultural livelihoods. But the macro environment and agricultural policy failures have tended to erode rather than reinforce capacity of smallholder farmers adapt to their changing agricultural circumstances in the face of HIV and AIDS - induced loss of family labor, incomes and assets. Some of the main specific findings are that

    1. State and non state actors have responded to the HIV and AIDS pandemic but coordination failures and capacity challenges have limited the geographic reach and the efficacy of programming HIV & AIDS interventions in terms of coverage of mitigation issues of interest to smallholder farmers
    2. HIV and AIDS is significantly adversely affected food security of rural households primarily through negative impact on remittance income
    3. HIV and AIDS is negatively affecting agricultural productivity but the damage is not as significant because of the presence of other agricultural policy related stress factors that are persistently driving farm productivity down
    4. HIV and AIDS is transforming farming system towards crops that save on resources - labor, cash, assets- most adversely affected by HIV and AIDS
    5. HIV and AIDS is significantly eroding the productive asset base of farmers below critical levels sending agricultural populations into income poverty as well as asset poverty which guarantees chronic poverty and livelihood insecurity by reducing capacity to grow a crop and capacity to cope
    6. HIV and AIDS is disproportionately burdening the vulnerable women headed households who are suffering more from HIV and AIDS induced poverty and yet offering more to society in care giving.

  5. The Recommendations

    The recommends the following policy actions for government and development practitioners

    1. Ministry of Agriculture assumes leadership in articulating policy issues and designing programs for mitigating impact of HIV and AIDS in collaboration and under the auspices of National Aids Council.
    2. (b) NAC Monitoring and Evaluation Unit spearheads the creation of national data bank for effective monitoring and evaluation of impacts of HIV and AIDS impacts on agriculture among other sectors and for informing mitigation strategies.
    3. That Government recognizes the importance of sustaining a conducive agricultural policy environment free of price distortions as the best arsenal for farmers to combat impact of HIV and AIDS.
    4. Initiate support programs for facilitating and safeguarding acquisition and growth of productive livestock assets by rural farmers living with aids.
    5. Given the social benefits of effectively addressing the cattle crisis in rural areas are therefore immense in the face of HIV and AIDS. The solution to the challenge is multi-pronged.

    • Political pressure on traditional leadership to discourage the customary practice of dispossessing the widow(er) of remaining cattle holdings upon death of her(his) spouse. So far the practice has noticeably slowed down due to soft non-coercive strategy of moral suasion. Coercive legislation may be necessary to protect the remainder from the 20% of families still bent on the practice.
    • Targeted roll out of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS support programs for rural families living with AIDS aimed at providing sufficient resources for care to the rural families so that they do not resort to poverty-worsening measures of consumption much needed livestock capital base essential for sustaining agricultural production and resilience of rural farmers living with aids.
    • Expansion of livestock investment support program into rural areas to encourage restocking and commercialization of rural herd. However special program to give a herd -start to young rural families diagnosed to have HIV and AIDS may also be necessary to encourage young families to detect illness early and start early on pyscho-socio and economic counseling (and treatment when available) and on their sustainable livelihood strategy.

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