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Zimbabwe wheat output to plunge

Zimbabwe’s wheat crop is forecast to decline by two-thirds due to the worst drought in nearly 40 years and a widespread power shortage that has severely limited farmers’ ability to irrigate, Bloomberg reported on Oct. 11.

“We are going to be producing around 60,000 tonnes this year because of the power cuts,” Graeme Murdoch, vice-chairman of the National Wheat Contract Farming Committee, told Bloomberg.

Last year Zimbabwe harvested 160,000 tonnes of wheat.

Murdoch told Bloomberg that Zimbabwe relies on hydropower from the Kariba plant for about half of its needs, but output has dropped to 190 megawatts compared with its 1,0150 megatwatt capacity as the dam’s water level has dwindled. With daily power cuts of up to 18 hours, he said the amount of irrigable land for wheat is now just 28,000 hectares compared to the targeted amount of 75,000 hectares.

The Zimbabwe Ministry of Agriculture estimated that the country needs to import 375,000 tonnes of wheat to meet national demand of 450,000 tonnes.