from DANAI MWARUMBWA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – A steadily declining inflation rate, a nearly 200 percent increase in food production, rising dam levels and increased employment, things are looking up for Zimbabwe’s economy largely driven by a rebounding agricultural sector.
It heralds the end of successive droughts that have bedevilled the Southern Africa nation and demoted it from a regional breadbasket to a basket case.
The 2021 harvest started in April across many areas of the country and is improving access to food and agricultural labor. Harvests are expected to peak in May.
The government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reported 2,7 million metric tonnes of maize production for the 2020/21 season.
This tally of the staple grain is nearly 200 percent higher than last year and 130 percent above average.
According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), traditional or small grain production is estimated at 348 000 MT, which is 130 percent above 2020 production.
“The above-average harvest is driving increases in agricultural labor opportunities, especially in typical surplus producing areas,” the agency stated.
With a target of 1 800 grain collection points, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) parastatal has established nearly 1 400 points as of early April to ensure ease of grain delivery to depots.
Meanwhile, the tobacco marketing season opened in early April, with cotton sales expected to start in mid-May.
Zimbabwe is the leading producer of the two cash crops in the region.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) reported that , as of mid-April, the average national dam level was over 90 percent, ensuring sufficient water supply for human and livestock consumption as well as agricultural activities for nearly two years.
“Above normal water availability for winter cropping and other agricultural, urban, and livelihood uses is expected. This is expected to improve income sources,” FEWS NET stated.
Despite the progressive decline in annual inflation since mid-2020, the official inflation rate remains high at 194 percent in April, as reported by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT).
There has been some increase in income access due to the increase in agricultural activities.
On another positive note, the rate of infections of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be relatively low, with very few associated deaths.
Zimbabwe has recorded 38 293 cases of the virus, including 1 573 deaths.
– CAJ News