Power outages hit winter wheat farmers

Most farmers from wheat growing areas around the country have expressed concern over load shedding, which has intensified over the past three weeks.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union President, Wonder Chabikwa, confirmed the power outages, saying the situation was negatively impacting the winter wheat crop.

“We have been receiving complaints mostly from Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West Bindura, and Hurungwe, and the farmers say load shedding has compromised their operations in a great way,” he said.

Chabikwa said his union had engaged the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, requesting the power utility to minimise load shedding in the wheat growing areas.

“With the weather getting warmer, wheat will require frequent irrigation. Failure to do so will compromise our expected yields,” he said.

Chabikwa also called on the government to intervene if the issue is not resolved immediately.

He said the early crops planted in May were most affected and while those planted in June are relatively safe, they could deteriorate if the power cuts persist.

In addition Chabikwa said the expected yield of about 5 tonnes per hectare will decrease to 2 tonnes or less per hectare if power supplies do not improve.

Farmers projected this year to produce 30,000 tonnes of wheat after planting 4,500 hectares.

Load shedding intensified since the July 31 elections ended. ZESA said the power supply problems had been heightened by reduced imports due to plant maintenance at Mozambique’s Hydro Caborra Bassa.

Chabikwa also noted that wheat farming initially suffered from lack of funding, resulting in farmers planting less than expected and reduced participation from farmers, further saying that due to climatic changes, irrigation is the only trusted way to resuscitate agriculture in Zimbabwe.

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