Cyclone Idai affected businesses in Manicaland Province are appealing to Government for duty rebate on fuel imports as they have resorted to expensive alternative energy sources to continue operations after power infrastructure was damaged.
Earlier in March, tropical Cyclone Idai hit the Eastern parts of Zimbabwe, mainly Chimanimani and Chipinge leaving a trail of destruction to infrastructure including houses, roads, bridges, irrigation equipment and energy infrastructure. Some orchards were also not spared.
The area is home to some of the country’s big brands in agriculture such as Tanganda Tea Company and Ariston Holdings that have tea, coffee, avocado and macadamia plantations.
Due to extensive damages to energy infrastructure, the operators are now resorting to diesel-powered pumps and generators to irrigate their plantations, which is unsustainable given the cost and availability of fuel.
As such, tea growers in the area
have submitted an application to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for rebates on fuel imports, to enable
them to maintain operations in plantations and guarantee their going concern
Tanganda Tea Company financial director Henry Nemaire told Business Weekly that the use of diesel powered pumps and generators was unsustainable and posed a threat to yields as well as quality of crops for the export market.
“In terms of power supply, the infrastructure was put back, there is a serious power shortage,” said Nemaire by telephone.
“We have asked the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to exempt us from duty for fuel. We are using generators to pump water for irrigating plantations and it is not sustainable.
“We are looking at essential commodities for the country. If we leave the plantations like that this will compromise quality and reduce export value.
“As such, we have made an application and expecting to get a response soon because the situation is dire,” he said.
Nemaire said while operators were repairing roads to their estates to enhance accessibility, a lot still needed to be done especially bridges such as the 30-tonne Bridge in Ratelshoek in Chipinge.
He added: “There are bridges owned by Rural District Councils and others that need urgent attention and the roads. The situation is still bad.”
Ariston Holdings revealed in their financial results for the half year to March 31, 2019 that it anticipated an increase in expenses due to cost of repairs for tropical Cyclone Idai damages.
According to Ariston, the damage on its estates varied substantially, with the greatest effects being experienced at Roscommon Estate in Chimanimani, where damage was incurred on infrastructure.
As such, the firm was therefore working on rebuilding the damaged infrastructure on its estates at an estimated cost of US$1,5 million.
International Senior Lawyers’ Project country advisor (Zimbabwe) Bridget Mafusire, said the region was under threat from climate change that called for more efforts into disaster preparedness citing the Cyclone Idai as a case study.
She said the tropical cyclone brought severe setbacks for the Chimanimani area and this provided an opportunity for both businesses and Government to take stock on disaster preparedness as well as look at infrastructure investment options that can offset or limit the effects of such natural disasters.
“The climate change issue is an opportunity and a cost. In Zimbabwe it’s a cost, we had Cyclone Idai recently that damaged Chimanimani, the whole town was damaged.
“Our ability to prepare for disaster as a country is important to FDI to resuscitate say that region, it will have an impact on the investors’ property five years down the line,” she said at a ZimReal Property Investment Forum on Wednesday in the capital.