Horticultural firms to get ring-fenced power- Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's fresh produce exporters can now pay electricity bills in foreign currency in exchange for ring-fenced power from Zesa to avoid power cuts, industry players have said.

Reduced production at the Kariba hydro power plant due to low water levels and recurrent breakdowns at Hwange thermal power plant has seen Zimbabwe experiencing the worst power cuts in three years. This has been compounded by reduced exports.

Most horticultural firms require a non-stop supply of electricity to power their cooling facilities and keep their produce fresh before exported to overseas markets.

While the sector, that is promising to be one of the country’s major foreign currency earners, is showing positive signs of recovery with exports having been on an upward trend, it had come under threat due to power shortages that have seen households and businesses, including manufactures enduring long periods of power cuts.

Exports from the sector grew 116 percent last year to US$112 million from US$52 million recorded in the previous year, lifted by new products which were previously not exported.

“Companies can now pay US dollars in exchange of ring fenced power and this will actually save our industry,” said Mr Edwin Moyo, the chairman of Nhimbe Fresh Exports, a big exporter of peas, stone fruits and berries to the European Union.

The European Union is the largest market for Zimbabwe’s horticultural products. The main EU market include Netherlands, which accounts for 43 of total horticulture exports, according to Trade Map. Other importers are United Kingdom Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Malta, Romania and Greece. Major export crops are citrus, macadamia, avocado, peas, stone fruits, berries and flowers.

Chief executive of Ariston Mr Paul Spear told The Herald that the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed firm was due to sign a ring-fenced agreement with Zesa yesterday, but would still focus on alternative energy sources such as solar as there was no guarantee of uninterrupted power supplies.




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