Lower growth forecast for Zim as drought ravages crop yields

Zimbabwe’s finance minister Mthuli Ncube. Photo: AFP

Zimbabwe’s finance minister Mthuli Ncube. Photo: AFP

Published Jul 11, 2024


Zimbabwe has revised its economic growth forecast downwards as southern Africa’s worst drought in decades ravages crop yields, its finance minister told Reuters on Wednesday, but a bounceback in growth is likely in 2025.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said economic growth is forecast at 2% for 2024, down from 3.5% forecast in November, due to an El Niño-induced drought which has led to widespread crop failure.

El Niño is a natural climate phenomenon in which surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific become unusually warm, causing changes in global weather patterns.

Zimbabwe is among the hardest hit by drought in the region, impacting crop yields. Its neighbours Zambia and Malawi have declared a state of disaster as a result of the drought.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund also said it expected Zimbabwe’s growth to fall to 2%, down from 5.3% last year.

“We are all downgrading our growth targets for 2024 because of deeper than expected impact on our agriculture, but next year is brighter,” Ncube said.

Growth is expected to recover to above 5% in 2025, he added.

In May, the Zimbabwean government forecast that staple maize production would drop 72% in the 2023/24 season.

Ncube said the drought had affected agriculture output and the country expects to import 1.4 million metric tonnes of grain.

To ease hunger across the country, Zimbabwe received around $32 million (R579m) drought insurance last week from an African Union agency. The government has also appealed to international donors to assist with food aid.

Ncube is set to give his mid-term budget review later this month.