The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority announced Wednesday that load-shedding power cuts will be expanded to as much as 20 hours a day for the next three months so that winter wheat farmers will have power enough to irrigate their fields.

ZESA Chief Executive Officer Ben Rafemoyo was quoted in the state-run Herald newspaper as saying the move was needed to keep agriculture ?ticking? and to spare the country the expense of importing wheat or flour to meet national needs.

The state utility has been plagued by problems ranging from broken generators to fuel shortages to shortages of foreign exchange to purchase electricity from abroad.

Opposition member of parliament Joel Gabuza, secretary for mines, environment, and tourism in the MDC faction of Morgan Tsvangirai, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that ZESA?s decision is not so much about giving wheat farmers priority as admitting that the national power supply is inadequate.

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