Winter harvest worries

wheat_durumHARARE This years winter wheat harvest could become another major agricultural flop as severe electricity shortages are making it difficult to harvest crops. (Pictured: Due to electricity shortages, this years winter wheat harvest wont be what it once was.)

The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Joseph Made last week told Parliament that the winter crop was plagued by incessant electricity deficiency. I want to put the blame on power shortages for the wheat shortfall. Electricity cuts have affected irrigation and have halved crop yields per acre. I therefore would like to emphasize that for those that will be going into the winter wheat crop, should have electricity available, Made said.

I had a discussion with the Minister of Energy and Power Development to make sure that we put clusters to farmers and indicate which area we think we should not have load shedding just like we did last year and the previous seasons, he added. Farmers have expressed doubts over whether they would be guaranteed electricity.

It is the same as last year, we were promised to be exempt from the power cuts, but it was worse and power cuts became the order of the day. The winter harvest was a major flop. It is not clear if we will be guaranteed power, even though Made is saying that government is eager to boost the winter crop, said David Chikore, a farmer in Beatrice.

Power cuts have become a regular occurrence in Zimbabwe, where a shortage of foreign currency has prevented investment in the countrys creaky power generation infrastructure.

Concerned Parliamentarians also asked what activities were being put in place to avert power shortages, the deputy minister of Energy and Power Development Hubert Nyanhongo said: The plant at Hwange is old and cannot continue to produce electricity the nation required. I would want to say until we are capable of constructing a new power station at Hwange, that way we will be guaranteed of power, Nyanhongo said.

The Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, has released resources to the extent of US$10 million from government for the winter cropping. Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) has also indicated their support for the winter wheat crop.

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