Harare - Attainment of the projected 5.5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022 remains unconvincing as headwinds darken the economic environment especially, within the agricultural sector. 

In its 2022 first quarter report, Treasury revealed that despite positive performance within the mining and manufacturing sectors during the first quarter, poor agricultural activities during the period remain a threat to the attainment of 5.5% GDP growth initially envisioned for this year. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, under a normal economic environment, agriculture contributes approximately 17% of Zimbabwe’s GDP with mining at 12% while manufacturing is closer to 19%.

However, due to poor rainfall patterns attributed to climate change, agricultural input to the country’s GDP is constantly deteriorating with a meagre contribution of 7% in 2020 according to World Bank.

“The first quarter of 2022 was generally characterised by positive performance in almost all sectors, which include mining, manufacturing, and tourism,” Treasury said in a statement accompanying its 2022’s first-quarter report.

“However, agricultural activities were affected by poor rainfall distribution which has the potential to compromise the attainment of the projected 5.5% growth of the economy this year.

"Agriculture activities were affected by the erratic rainfall pattern which resulted in the write-off of the early planted crops."

The country experienced wetter than usual conditions resulting in floods in some areas and later experienced a long dry spell during the period mid-February to the end of March 2022.

Despite poor rainfall patterns, agriculture was also affected by higher input costs, particularly, fertilizer prices which surged substantially during the season.

As a result, the area planted during the 2021/22 agriculture season for most crops declined, notable being pearl millet, cotton, sweet potatoes, cassava, maize, and tobacco.

According to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development, hectares for maize decreased by 1%, tobacco by 11%, and cotton by 23%.

“In view of the poor rainfall season and the resultant lower planted area, output in the agricultural sector is expected to decline this year,” Treasury said. 

Area planted under tobacco decreased by 11% to 110 770 hectares compared to 125 177 hectares planted in the 2020/21 season attributed to the late onset of rainfall resulting in late planting of the crop and false and flush ripening of the tobacco crop was experienced due to excessive rains received at the end of January.

Tobacco is one of the country's leading foreign currency earners behind gold and nickel mattes which are a composition of platinum group metals (PGMs).

Despite the agricultural sector, other contributors to Zimbabwe’s GDP such as industry and tourism succumb to inflationary pressures and a volatile economic environment due to poor policy making by the government and the Russian-Ukraine war which has offset the global economic markets. 

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