Zimbabwe’s Economy to Shrink by 3% as Drought Hits Agricultural Sector

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Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to decline by 3% due to the devastating impact of the El Niño-induced drought on the agricultural sector, which is the backbone of the country’s economy.

The drought has resulted in poor crop yields, and the Grain Marketing Board has warned that the country’s grain reserves are nearly depleted and will not last until June.

In response to the crisis, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared the drought a national disaster, and the government has initiated efforts to mobilize food aid. The World Food Programme’s country director, Francesca Erdelmann, emphasized that climate change has caused agro-ecological shifts, affecting Zimbabwe’s food sovereignty and resilience.

“Climate change is also causing agro-ecological shifts, which has affected several breadbaskets in Africa, including Zimbabwe. And this has impacted the continent’s food sovereignty and resilience,” Erdelmann said.

“Real GDP was estimated to have grown by 5,5% in 2023, after a 6,5% growth in 2022, due to an expansion in agriculture, mining and remittance-induced service growth. Growth is expected to decelerate to about 3% in 2024, partly reflecting the impact of a drought on agricultural production and lower commodity prices.”

Erdelmann noted that real GDP grew by 5.5% in 2023, driven by agriculture, mining, and service growth, but is expected to slow down to 3% in 2024 due to the drought and lower commodity prices. She also stressed the need to enhance digital connectivity and inclusion, as internet penetration in Zimbabwe is lower than the African average.

Meanwhile, Mussie Delelegn, acting head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s productive capacities and sustainable development branch, urged the government to address the gaps in productive capacities, diversify the economy, and invest in fostering productive capacities to transform the country’s economy.

The country’s reliance on imports rather than exports has resulted in economic fluctuations, and transformation efforts are not yielding the desired results.

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