Gwanda ir­ri­ga­tion schemes get so­lar power

Re­lax­ation on ba­sics im­ports to trig­ger in­fla­tion: CZI

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide - Oliver Kazunga Sukul­wenkosi Dube-Matutu

THE Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe In­dus­tries (CZI) says re­lax­ing reg­u­la­tions on the im­por­ta­tion of ba­sic com­modi­ties into the coun­try by Govern­ment may trig­ger in­fla­tion.

In­dus­try and Com­merce Min­is­ter Dr Mike Bimha told a press con­fer­ence at the week­end that Govern­ment has re­laxed reg­u­la­tions on the im­por­ta­tion of ba­sic com­modi­ties and in­vited in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions with free funds to ap­proach his min­istry for im­port per­mits.

In the past two months, there have been un­jus­ti­fied price in­creases on ba­sic com­modi­ties and ser­vices fol­low­ing so­cial me­dia re­ports that the coun­try was go­ing to face food short­ages.

Speak­ing by tele­phone from Harare yes­ter­day, CZI pres­i­dent Mr Sife­lani Ja­bangwe said:

“From the way we un­der­stand it (im­port reg­u­la­tions re­lax­ation), it’s be­ing im­ple­mented where we re­ally have the short­ages and this may be part of the sta­bil­i­sa­tion mea­sures.”

He said CZI be­lieves it was bet­ter to man­u­fac­ture than bring­ing in fin­ished prod­ucts.

“Un­for­tu­nately, those who would bring in fin­ished prod­ucts will still need to con­vert their money back into US dol­lars. And those prod­ucts can­not land at cheaper price than lo­cally man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts, so that could ac­tu­ally drive in­fla­tion up­wards,” said Mr Ja­bangwe.

In this light, he said it was im­por­tant that lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers keep sup­ply­ing in or­der to avoid the es­ca­la­tion of prices if im­ports flood the mar­ket.

He urged the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe (RBZ) to con­tinue sup­port­ing in­dus­try by pri­ori­tis­ing for­eign cur­rency al­lo­ca­tion to the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor to en­sure in­dus­try keep sup­ply­ing.

“We are also urg­ing the lo­cal com­pa­nies that they PRAC­TI­CAL Ac­tion has al­lo­cated $2,3 mil­lion to­wards in­stalling so­lar en­ergy at three un­der­utilised ir­ri­ga­tion schemes with a to­tal ca­pac­ity of 70 hectares in Gwanda District.

Speak­ing at an in­cep­tion meet­ing in Gwanda on Fri­day Prac­ti­cal Ac­tion project man­ager, Mrs Melody Makumbe said the project was be­ing funded by the Swedish In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (Sida).

She said they will also es­tab­lish 15 one-hectare so­lar pow­ered gar­dens in three wards as part of ef­forts to en­hance agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity in ru­ral ar­eas.

“As Prac­ti­cal Ac­tion we were awarded a grant by Sida to im­ple­ment a three year project ti­tled ‘En­hanced agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity and re­silience to cli­mate change through so­lar pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion’. Un­der the pro­gramme we are tar­get­ing to in­stall so­lar en­ergy to three ir­ri­ga­tion schemes in three dif­fer­ent wards. must find ways to keep pro­duc­ing and sup­ply­ing the mar­ket be­cause we need to keep in­fla­tion down. Wholly im­ported prod­ucts will drive prices up,” he said.

The Govern­ment has iden­ti­fied 15 es­sen­tial prod­ucts which are key and of in­ter­est to con­sumers, for which it would en­sure pri­ori­ti­sa­tion in the al­lo­ca­tion of for­eign cur­rency to im­port crit­i­cal raw ma­te­ri­als for their pro­duc­tion.

The prod­ucts in­clude cook­ing oil, sugar, flour, rice, milk, eggs, salt, beef, wash­ing pow­der, and fuel.

Mr Ja­bangwe said CZI con­tin­ues to en­gage the Govern­ment over the re­lax­ation of im­port reg­u­la­tions to en­sure there would not be a mar­ket glut of im­ported prod­ucts.

“We have been dis­cussing with the Govern­ment on is­sues to do with price sta­bil­i­sa­tion and also en­sur­ing sup­ply. At the mo­ment, with the cur­rent lev­els of val­u­a­tion of that is there be­tween the Real Time Gross Set­tle­ments and the United States dol­lar, lo­cal prod­ucts should be cheaper and lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers should not

“So far we have iden­ti­fied Si­likwe Ir­ri­ga­tion in Datata Ward and Sukwi Ir­ri­ga­tion Scheme in Bu­vuma Ward. We are yet to iden­tify the third ir­ri­ga­tion scheme but in to­tal we are tar­get­ing cov­er­age of 70 hectares.

“We will also be es­tab­lish­ing 15 one-hectare gar­dens,” she said.

Mrs Makumbe said the project was run­ning from Oc­to­ber 1 this year to Septem­ber 30, 2020.

She said 919 house­holds were ex­pected to ben­e­fit from this project while vil­lagers in neigh­bour­ing wards will also ben­e­fit in­di­rectly.

Mrs Makumbe said ben­e­fi­cia­ries un­der this project were ex­pected to pro­duce com­mer­cially.

“The ob­jec­tive of this project is to im­prove liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties for small holder farm­ers in ru­ral ar­eas through ac­cess to green so­lar en­ergy for ir­ri­ga­tion.

“We con­ducted back­ground checks and dis­cov­ered that there were ir­ri­ga­tion schemes within the district that were not per­form­ing well.

“These ir­ri­ga­tions are pow­ered by diesel en­gines and farm­ers were strug­gling to buy the diesel.” — @DubeMatutu. at all feel threat­ened by the im­ports,” he said.

Asked if the re­lax­ation of im­port reg­u­la­tions had been ef­fected by Govern­ment in re­tal­i­a­tion to de­fi­ant re­tail­ers whose prices have re­mained high fol­low­ing the re­cent price hikes, Mr Ja­bangwe said:

“I don’t think its re­tal­i­a­tion by the Govern­ment. The ma­jor thing that we were all con­cerned with is en­sur­ing that there are no short­ages over the fes­tive pe­riod. And this mea­sure we see it as try­ing to en­sur­ing there is ad­e­quate sup­ply in the mar­ket dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.”

A snap sur­vey car­ried out by this pa­per on Sun­day re­vealed that most shops in Bu­l­awayo were yet to re­duce their prices fol­low­ing the un­just price in­creases ef­fected in Septem­ber.

Last week, Govern­ment warned that it would con­sider re­vok­ing op­er­at­ing li­cences of busi­nesses found guilty of wan­tonly hik­ing prices de­spite a raft of mea­sures to sta­bilise prices and re­solve pro­duc­tion and sup­ply bot­tle­necks. — @okazunga.

Del­e­gates fol­low pro­ceed­ings at the Min­istry of Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment Strate­gic Plan­ning Work­shop at a Bu­l­awayo ho­tel yes­ter­day

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