The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank killed the booming peasant agriculture in Zimbabwe reducing the country to a perennial food importer whereas it had been a net exporter prior to their structural adjustment programme, a new study by the Jubilee Debt Campaign says.
The study says output from the communal farmers had increased from 5 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 1989 because of the government support to the sector.
The support included extension services, subsidies on inputs, soft loans and centralised purchasing systems. These were all removed at the insistence of the World Bank when Zimbabwe adopted a structural adjustment programme in 1991.
Because the adjustment programme stressed on exports, there was a shift to cash crops. The biggest beneficiaries turned out to be commercial farmers whose production of flowers, fruit and vegetables for export increased by 400 percent in the 1990s.
Maize production on the other hand declined. The fall in production from communal farmers also benefitted commercial farmers whose share of agricultural production increased from 68 percent in 1989 to 81 percent by 1993.
To make matters worse, when Zimbabwe was hit by a severe drought in 1992, the Bretton Woods institutions said Zimbabwe did not qualify for aid because it was a middle income country. The World Bank gave Zimbabwe a loan of US$120 million for drought relief but this amount is said to have ballooned to $150 million now.
Some of the food that was bought with this money was not even suitable for animal consumption because someone was getting a cut from the suppliers.
The current picture is that Zimbabwe has borrowed US$7.7 billion since 1980. It had repaid US$11.4 billion to date. But it still owes more than US$7 billion.
Should the country therefore go to the IMP and World Bank for more debt?