Cyclone Idai invades Meikles’ Tanganda Tea Estates

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    HARARE- Early assessments of the crop situation at Meikles group’s Tanganda Tea estates in Chipinge shows that some of the crop has been damaged by the catastrophic Cyclone Idai which descended on Zimbabwe last week, according to a key executive at the company.

    The official said early indications shows that the avocado crop has been negatively impacted although the full extend is yet to be ascertained.

    “Experts are expected to begin to move into the fields once the rains subside this week to measure the full extent of the damage.

    Presently the ground is still very wet as rains continue to pour while the road network has been badly damaged thus hampering any serious assessment efforts”

    Tea which is the major crop has however not been affected by the cyclone ahead of its harvest which is expected to begin in a week’s time. Its low height, close inter crop knitting and deep roots ensures minimal damage through rains and flooding can be incurred.

    Tanganda Tea operates 5 estates in Chipinge which include Zona, Jersey, New Years Gift, Tingamira and Ratolshoek, which is situated next to Ariston Holdings’ Clear Water and Southdown estates.

    The 6 estates are inter cropped with tea, coffee, avocados and macadamia nuts on a collective circa 3000 hectares of land. The bulk of the crop is exported overseas, thus earning Zimbabwe the much-needed forex.

    Tea accounts for the larger share of revenue earned from the agriculture operations. In recent years Meikles however undertook to invest in increased macadamia and avocado crop. The company was set to surpass Ariston as the largest producer of macadamia in the coming 3 years.

    In its 2018 financial results, Meikles reported the new crop was significant in size but remained immature despite improved revenue from some its sales. The company anticipated in 2018 that it would take 3 more years for the crop to fully mature.

    It is this avocado and macadamia crop which is under threat from the prevailing cyclone Idai. The occurrence however is not likely to have a serious impact on expected revenues from the overall agric produce since the dominant tea crop is unscathed.

    Macadamia and avocado have the inherent risk of height as tree crops which makes them vulnerable to winds and heavy rains.

    In the 12 months period to September 2018, Meikles agric operations generated $29 million in sales and a profit of $6 million which was a 5 fold growth over the prior year.

    Cyclone Idai is an intense tropical cyclone which is the strongest tropical cyclone to strike Southern Africa in a decade. The tenth named storm and record-breaking seventh intense tropical cyclone of the 2018–19 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season, Idai originated from a tropical depression that formed off the eastern coast of Mozambique on 4 March.

    The depression made landfall later in the day and remained a tropical cyclone throughout the entirety of its trek over land. On 9 March, the depression reemerged into the Mozambique Channel and was upgraded into Moderate Tropical Storm Idai next day.

    The system then began a stint of rapid intensification, reaching an initial peak intensity as an intense tropical cyclone with winds of 175 km/h (110 mph) on 11 March. Idai then began to weaken due to ongoing structural changes within its inner core, falling to tropical cyclone intensity. Idai’s intensity remained stagnant for about a day or so before it began to re-intensify.

    On 14 March, Idai reached peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h (120 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 940 hPa (27.76 inHg). Idai then began to weaken as it approached the coast of Mozambique due to less favorable conditions.

    On 15 March, Idai made landfall near Beira, Mozambique, as an intense tropical cyclone moving into the eastern parts of Zimbabwe, where all of Meikles farming activities are concentrated.

    Tea and coffee are processed in bulk form for sale, either on the international market or to the Beverage Division for local and regional packed tea sales.

    – Equity Axis News

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