Agriculture growth revised downwards

Agriculture growth revised downwards
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

THE agriculture sector is expected to grow by eight percent this year, down from the initial projection of 15,7 percent, due to a prolonged dry spell during the first half of the 2017/18 rainfall season that resulted in crops in most parts of the country wilting, the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new administration is banking on agriculture to revive the economy, with the sector’s growth hinging on the command agriculture programme, which now includes soybeans, wheat, livestock and fisheries.
Farmers’ hopes for a good harvest are fast disappearing despite the rains that started falling throughout the country this week. “The projected growth for the agricultural sector for this year was 15,7 percent before the averse dry condition. It has been revised to eight percent on the backdrop of wilting crops,” said the ZCFU in a paper prepared by its president, Wonder Chabikwa, and presented at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries 2018 Economic Outlook Symposium last week.
While government expects the economy to grow by 4,5 percent this year, the African Development Bank last month said Zimbabwe’s economy was expected to grow by one percent, picking up to 1,2 percent next year.
The World Bank expects an economic growth of 0,9 percent.
“This season we expect normal to below normal rainfall, with high drought risk in most areas of the country. The optimal planting window passed without meaningful rains which will result in reduced yields. There is also the issue of climate change —  the smallholder farmers are the most vulnerable — impacting negatively on food security,” ZCFU said.
In their January report, the Famine Early Warning System Network said poor rainfall across the country was expected to affect the availability of seasonal green crops for consumption.
The report said erratic rainfall and dry conditions had persisted across most parts of the country, and every province had received below-average and poorly distributed rainfall, a situation that will result in reduced agriculture sector growth.
Chabikwa said increased growth in the sector could be achieved if government designates some agricultural areas as special economic zones and ensure that the country’s land is bankable and tradable. ZCFU said it was recommending export driven agriculture to focus resources on crops of high economic value such as tobacco, cotton, macadamia and coffee.
To guarantee consistent growth in the agriculture sector, the ZCFU said the issue of climate change should be addressed at a national level with the aim of building resilience and implementing national adaptation plans.

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