The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has revised its projected agriculture growth rate to 8 percent from 15,7 percent on the back of anticipated negative impact of the late onset of the rainy season.
ZCFU said late start to the 2017/18 rainy season had affected the crop situation across the country hence the agriculture sector would not achieve initially projected growth and performance.
In his 2018 National Budget Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa projected agriculture to grow by 15,9 percent in 2017, on the back of coordinated Government interventions and private sector initiatives.
The extension of Command Agriculture Programme to include soya beans and livestock is expected to sustain the growth. However, ZCFU president Wonder Chabikwa indicated the late onset of the rain season, which resulted in crops wilting in many parts of the country posed a threat to the sector, the backbone of the economy.
“Projected agriculture sector growth at 15,7 percent – before the dry conditions – revised to 8 percent on backdrop of wilting crops,” said Mr Chabikwa in a presentation at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) 2018 economic outlook symposium.
Overall, the economy is projected to grow by 4,5 percent. Mr Chabikwa however highlighted weather patterns had bearing on the performance of the agriculture sector and ultimately the entire economy.
The country expects normal to below normal rainfall with drought risk high in some parts of the country. Already, climate change is affecting the small holder farmers who are mostly not insured, despite being major contributors, especially tobacco and grain producers.
“The optimal planting window passed without meaningful rains reducing yields. The country is also utilising 50 percent of established irrigation,” he said.
He highlighted the need for Government to address climate change at national level with aim to build resilience and implement National Adaptation Plans (NAP) to cushion farmers from the excessive effects of climate change on crop production.
Additionally, despite the high drought risk that will affect output, Mr Chabikwa said there was also need to curb unnecessary imports of agriculture products to save the much needed foreign currency.