‘Delink economy from climatic shocks’

Professor Amon Murwira from the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences

Creating resilience in Zimbabwe’s predominantly agro-based economy can only be achieved once the country is able to guard its agricultural production capacity against oscillating climate conditions which also underpins downstream manufacturing industries, experts have said.Research has shown that for years the country has received inadequate rainfall, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures have crumbled, while a surge in economic production has been noted in years when the rains were sufficient for agriculture.

Zimbabwe’s economy is largely based on agriculture whose receipts contributes over 20 percent of GDP while the sector’s downstream effects account for over 70 percent of raw materials feeding into the manufacturing industries.

Agriculture employs a significant number of Zimbabweans directly and indirectly with official figures from the parent ministry stating that it sustains over 70 percent of all livelihoods in the country.

The extreme weather conditions that have ravaged most agricultural endeavours in the country have had adverse implications on the national economy with analysts calling for sustainable measures that ensure the economy is not held at ransom by climatic changes which have become rampant in recent years.

Addressing key stakeholders at a Media workshop on climate change organized by the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) held in Harare last week, Professor Amon Murwira from the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe said there was a distinctive corresponding trend between rainfall and economic production patterns in Zimbabwe, a scenario he termed “hazardous” to the prospects of a resilient economy.

“Zimbabwe’s economy is completely linked to its climate as tangible data since the 1960s highlight.

“We notice that whenever the rainfall is inadequate for crop survival our production levels cutting across all sectors of the economy have fallen immensely whereas the opposite is true when we recorded sufficient rains.

“We must de-link our agricultural production from the rainfall patterns and that should be the basis for building a resilient economy free from natural shocks in this current context of climate change where we now  have a ratio of one in every three years being a good year for us in terms of rainfall,” Prof Murwira said.

Data shows that during the drought years of 1992, 2002, 2008 and 2015, the country’s GDP plummeted as compared to 2006 and 2010 for example, when rains were averagely sufficient for agricultural production.

The current year (2016) has already seen growth targets revised to 1.4 percent from the 2.7 percent initially projected in the 2016 Fiscal Statement announced last year which had anticipated the agriculture sector to spur growth which was however not to be as the country received little rainfall to sustain its agricultural activities.

He said the economy was very vulnerable to weather extremes which are now frequent as a result of global warming which has led to rains either becoming less frequent or surpassing required volumes and called for investment into areas of research and technology to mitigate the current challenges as what other regional countries like South Africa and Zambia have done.

“We have to utilise on the multiplicity of water bodies at our disposal through creating strong irrigation systems and invest in water harvesting mechanisms as seen in other countries facing the same predicament as ours yet their agricultural production cycles remain resilient against negative weather conditions.

“Currently we are using just above 9 percent of dammed water for our agriculture production which leaves a huge gap for exploration. We have to be resilient as an economy and let the yield increase regardless of rainfall patterns,” he added.

Zimbabwe is piling a hefty amount on top of its already huge import bill in sourcing grain imports to avert the food shortages in the country following poor harvest as a result of El Nino induced drought, which hit the country in the last planting season, a case which was widening the country’s current account deficit.

Analysts have also warned of latent economic effects of climate change which have hit hard on agricultural value chains threatening other key sectors of the economy such as the banking and manufacturing sectors.

“Climate change have been the major cause for NPLs (Non Performing Loans) at most local banks dealing with farmers as the farmer’s capacity to repay has been heavily compromised by their vulnerability to poor rainfall patterns,”  Mr Charles Dhewa an agronomist with e-Mkambo, a physical and web based knowledge platform for agriculture markets and products.

He said most Microfinance institutions financing agriculture projects in the communal areas have been left counting heavy losses as a result of unforeseen climatic conditions which leads to poor project yields.

Related Posts
Chinotimba invades another farm
Despite a series of ongoing demonstrations by angry Chipinge East community members including war veterans, youths and women, Joseph Chinotimba has finally occupied 175 hectares of Chihoza Farm in Daisy ...
READ MORE
Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe should be food sufficient in two years
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is spearheading the country’s command agriculture project says agriculture remains the bedrock of the country’s economy and the country should be self-sufficient in food within the ...
READ MORE
Amid drought, mystery disease kills Zimbabwe’s baobabs
CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe - A black baobab tree stands forlornly on the side of a highway in Chimanimani district, in the east of Zimbabwe. The tree is one of many in ...
READ MORE
Zimbabwe’s rock and hard place:  No escape from the country’s hardships
Hunger in Zimbabwe is seen overwhelmingly as a rural problem. Consecutive droughts have scorched harvests, and as a result 4.1 million people – half the rural population – are expected ...
READ MORE
Upsurge in attempts to evict Zim’s last white farmers
Harare - There is an upsurge in attempts to forcibly take over Zimbabwean properties still owned by whites 15 years after the launch of a land reform programme, a Zimbabwe ...
READ MORE
Mugabe admits he bungled on land reform
HARARE - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has admitted failures in the country's controversial land reform programme. "I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can't manage them," ...
READ MORE
‘Zimbabwe sliding into deeper crisis’ – Analysts
GOVERNMENT moved to curb social upheavals this week by reversing a policy announcement that sought to slash salaries and stop bonus payments to civil servants, at the risk of plunging ...
READ MORE
Zimbabwe calls for $1.6bn in aid to pay for food
HARARE — Zimbabwe on Tuesday appealed to local businesses and charities for $1.6bn aid to save more than a quarter of the population from starvation due to drought. "The government of ...
READ MORE
Drought Cripples Zimbabwe’s Farming Season
CHINHOYI—Most farmers in Zimbabwe’s maize-growing Mashonaland West province say they are losing hope of getting a good harvest this agricultural season due to the current dry spell, which has turned ...
READ MORE
Ministers own multiple farms — Mnangagwa
Acting-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has conceded that the land reform programme was done in a chaotic manner and warned that government would soon pounce on multiple farm owners, among them cabinet ...
READ MORE
Chinotimba invades another farm
Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe should be food sufficient in
Amid drought, mystery disease kills Zimbabwe’s baobabs
Zimbabwe’s rock and hard place: No escape
Upsurge in attempts to evict Zim’s last white
Mugabe admits he bungled on land reform
‘Zimbabwe sliding into deeper crisis’ – Analysts
Zimbabwe calls for $1.6bn in aid to pay
Drought Cripples Zimbabwe’s Farming Season
Ministers own multiple farms — Mnangagwa

Arts & Entertainment

gonyeti
Arts & Entertainment

Gonyeti claims Jah Prayzah sexually abused her, seeks compensation

27th September 2016 Staff Reporter 0

The fallout between popular musician Jah Prayzah and former 3rd Generation dancer, Pamela ‘Gonyeti’ Zulu took a dramatic twist last week. Gonyeti aka Pamela Zulu Gonyeti, who left Jah Prayzah in August and her lawyers […]

diddy
Arts & Entertainment

P Diddy donates $1million to his alma mater to help struggling students

23rd September 2016 Staff Reporter 0

After amassing a huge fortune, hip hop star P Diddy is giving back. The 46-year-old star has set up the Sean Combs Scholarship Fund gifting $1m (£765k) to Howard University. Presenting the Washington institute’s president […]