Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy, however this season faces two headwinds, an analyst has predicted.

Traditionally, banks play key role, but this time around, they have no capacity to lend and amid a predictable drought.

However, according to Baba Nyenyedzi Zimbabwe faces its biggest economic challenge yet.

He says the country is facing its new creditors, Afreximbank and China in light of falling exports and commodity price slump.

As he points out, debt servicing will be a uphill task for the country:

“Servicing new debt is a huge headache at the moment. Hwange debt must be paid. Yet the tariffs are uneconomical and in ZWL.

“The market worried about threats of monocurrency has moved its USD offshore. USD cash in the formal system used to be above US$500m.

“As of July it had come down to US$350m. Formal businesses preferring to keep cash offshore. How much more is outside the system,” he says.

President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has made it clear that the country is headed for a single currency.

With the multi currency expected to end in 2025, banks have been warned to be cautious.

To make matters worse, Zimbabwe expects to receive normal to below normal rainfall with parts of the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces getting below normal rains for the beginning of the 2023/24 planting season, according to a preliminary weather forecast.

In a statement, the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry said the bulk of Matabeleland North, parts of Midlands covering Gokwe North and South districts, parts of Matabeleland South province covering Bulilima district will receive below normal to normal rainfall for the sub-season October- November- December.

The period October to March is the main rainfall season over most parts of the country.

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) recently issued the statement at a National Climate Outlook Forum (NACOF), a platform where stakeholders across climate sensitive sectors discuss the implications of the expected seasonal rainfall outlook for planning purposes.

The outlook for October 2023 to March 2024 is that for the October to December (OND) 2023 period, there will be increased chances of normal-to-below normal rainfall for most parts of the country except the greater part of Matabeleland North, parts of Bulawayo Metropolitan, parts of Midlands and parts of Mashonaland West which have increased chances of below normal-to-normal rainfall.

The seasonal rainfall forecast is divided into four sub-seasons: October to December (OND) 2023, November to January (NDJ) 2023/24, December to February (DJF) 2023/24 and January to March 2024 (JFM) for cumulative seasonal rainfall amounts expressed relative to the long-term averages particular to specific locations.

These forecasts should be used together with the periodic updates that are given daily, in three day and 10-day forecasts.

In coming up with the forecasts, the statement said the climate scientists took into account oceanic and atmospheric factors that influence the climate over Zimbabwe, including the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is currently in an El Niño phase.

The ENSO is projected to remain in an El Niño phase during the forecast period. There is also an increased chance of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) by the end of the March 2024.

Normal refers to long-term average rainfall received in an area, normal to below-normal cumulative rainfall most likely to be within the long-term average range with a chance of going below this range while normal to above-normal refers to cumulative rainfall most likely to be within the long-term average range with a chance of going above this range.