Farmers fear losing winter crop due to power cuts

Source: Farmers fear losing winter crop due to power cuts | The Herald July 24, 2019

Farmers fear losing winter crop due to power cutsWonder Chabikwa

Business Reporter
The prevailing power cuts are threatening to cripple the 2019 winter wheat season and farmers fear losing their crop unless the electricity situation improves this month.

Wheat is grown in winter with the planting traditionally starting from May 1 to 25 and the crop relies on irrigation systems powered by electricity. Zimbabwe Federation of Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa yesterday expressed fear that this year’s wheat yield target could be compromised due to erratic power supplies.

“Winter wheat is a huge challenge in terms of power this season. We are getting electricity supplies of six hours a day, which is a terrible situation.

“We had established in mind that with adequate power supplies we are going to get a 100 percent yield,” he said.

Zimbabwe is experiencing critical power generation constraints due to depressed generation at Kariba Hydro, Hwange and other smaller power stations.

The country’s energy demand hovers around 2 200 megawatts, but because of obsolete equipment, the power plants were generating far below the national requirement and this has also prompted the Government to embark on extension works at the major power stations.

As of yesterday the Zimbabwe Power Company indicated on its website that the country was generating a total of 874MW. As such, Mr Chabikwa said their projections were that the wheat yield would be lower this year as a result of power cuts.

He said some of their members are said to have abandoned certain portions of the fields to focus on areas with potential to produce better yields under the circumstances.

Last year Zimbabwe produced close to 130 000 tonnes of wheat and this season farmers had set a target of 160 000 tonnes. Zimbabwe requires 450 000 tonnes of wheat annually.