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Cyclone Idai weakens Zimbabwe's export competitiveness

by Staff reporter
21 Mar 2019 at 07:49hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE's export promotion body, Zimtrade has said the country's exports were left uncompetitive after Cyclone Idai destroyed Beira Port leaving companies to use longer routes which are more expensive.

The development comes after the torrential rainfall patterns washed away road networks in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, making it difficult for local exporters to ship their goods out of the country. At least 104 died at the weekend when Cyclone Idai swept across Manicaland and parts of Masvingo provinces prompting a national emergency response.

Experts suggest that the exporters are incurring more costs of storage and transportation of their commodities after the ports were badly affected by Cyclone Idai.

Allan Majuru, Zimtrade chief executive told Business Times that the cylone negatively impacted on the country's exports, which pass through Beira.

"Beira port is one of the ports we use for exports and imports given the distance from Harare, hence transportation of commodities are much cheaper compared to other ports.

"Now that Cyclone Idai has swept away the infrastructure at the port, exporters are now using alternative routes which are longer and costly like the Durban Port. This makes our exports very uncompetitive and costly," said Majuru.

He said Zimtrade pineapple projects in Rusitu Valley in Chimanimani, were also swept away by the ravaging Cyclone Idai. Certification of the project was expected to occur by end of this month.

Zimtrade explained that Trade Com 2 irrigation projects (mainly for small scale) which were expected to kick start this month will be rescheduled for some time this year.

Cyclone Idai, which brought destruction to areas in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe cutting off power and communication.

Some roads, bridges and homes have been severely damaged mainly in Chipinge and Chimanimani.

Government has since declared a state of disaster in respect to affected areas.

The cutting of electricity supplies will force businesses to switch to generators to power their operations and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries says it will lobby for temporary suspension of duty on fuel to help keep their businesses afloat.

Sifelani Jabangwe, CZI president, said the business people are yet to quantify the amount of damages in the wake of the cyclone.

"The fact that Beira Port has been affected, the movement of trade commodities is going to be difficult, strenuous and costly as businesses will have to take long routes to transport either exports or imports.

"This means business will have to be transferred to other ports, thereby creating congestion in the movement of goods.

"Going forward, government should work together with business community to ensure the port clears as soon as possible to allow free movement of goods," said Jabangwe.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe said it is now using the Chiqualaquala Port into Zimbabwe via Rutenga. for the transportation of wheat.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed agriculture concern  Ariston Holdings is currently assessing the impact of Cyclone Idai amid indications the bulk of its export crop could have been lost after the natural phenomenon.

The development comes after the group's plantations, irrigation machinery and plantations' infrastructure were swept away in Chimanimani, Chipinge and Nyanga. The estates are Blended Tea Factory, Southdown and Clearwater in Chipinge, Rosecommon in Chimanimani, and Claremont Estate in Nyanga

 Estates buildings' rooftops were blown away together with warehouses and facilities at farms. Road networks to go there have been severely damaged and there is presently lack of access to most of the farms.

Brian Kagondo, Ariston group human resources executive told Business Times that the company's CEO Paul Spear is in Nyanga to assess the losses and damages.

 "The CEO (Spear) is in Nyanga right now together with the assessing teams to measure the degree of damages in our various plantations and infrastructure," Kagondo said.

"Due to the severe damage of roads and bridges the assessment will take close to two weeks before coming up with a comprehensive figure.

"Our insurers (whom I can't say right) who are part of the Cyclone Idai damage assessment team will compensate us after the whole process has been done.

"We hope we will get favourable payments from insurance firms who are assessing risk."

 Kagondo said though the situation was bad in and around Ariston estates no human fatalities were recorded on farms.

Kagondo said only one road which leads to the company's farms in Nyanga was cleared by uniformed forces and rescue teams yesterday morning.

He also said communication with his boss, Spear was difficult as network infrastructure was severely damaged by down pours.

Ariston which in the last three years heavily invested in Macadamia nuts processing plant and irrigation facilities to double production will have to replace the damaged equipment to realise good revenues.

Tanganda damage not as huge

Meanwhile Meikles Company Secretary Thabani Mpofu said early assessments of the crop situation at the group's Tanganda Tea estates in Chipinge indicated that the damage was not as huge as had been initially expected.

Tanganda Tea operates five estates in Chipinge which include Zona, Jersey, New Years Gift, Tingamira and Ratolshoek. The six estates are inter cropped with tea, coffee, avocados and macadamia nuts on about 3 000hectares.

Source - businesstimes