“THERE is no hope for us here in Mangwe as you can see for yourself. We will all desert our homes and cross over to South Africa or Botswana and look for menial jobs because there is no point of being here when it’s dry and hot like this, otherwise we will all be wiped out by hunger.”
These were the words of Thabani Nkomo of Khalanyoni village, located in Mangwe district of Plumtree, which borders neighbouring Botswana.
Dry and hot, the district is experiencing its most vicious drought in recent years.
And the spectre of hunger is looming large as the situation increasingly deteriorates.
Nearby districts are faring no better, as farmers from Brunapeg and Mambale did not receive sufficient rains to plough their fields.
By late last month, many had given up hope, tired of waiting for the onset of the elusive rainy season.
Still there were few other farmers in the area that did try to salvage the little they could from the fields and opted for dry planting — but even that route has yielded little joy.
Drought tolerant crops such as millet have wilted, while the maize crop planted with the little rains received in some parts of the district has been a write-off, owing to the prolonged dry spell and heat wave.
The situation also remains dire in the Bulilima district.
Ntandoyenkosi Dumani, a farmer in the area, said the drought devastation has been far-reaching.
Nothing at all, in terms of cereals, would be harvested during the 2015-2016 cropping season.
“It is really very tight; I have been to places like Madlambudzi, and even to Mangwe district in areas such as Sanzukwi and it is very sad that some people did not even scratch the ground,” he said.
Livestock is breathing its last as the dry spell shows no signs of waning.
Reports of drought tolerant animals such as donkeys dying are now common in Bulilima district — indicative of the intensity of the suffering that animals are enduring.
Agricultural experts say the effects of the dry spell would hit hard the three Matabeleland provinces, which traditionally have always borne the sharpest brunt of droughts in the country.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union past-president, Donald Khumalo, said a serious drought was beckoning countrywide.
In Matabeleland, Midlands, Masvingo and some parts of Manicaland, some people are already going without food.
“The only way out in future will be for the government to expedite the resuscitation of irrigation schemes,” said Khumalo.
“Farmers are now looking forward to the next season as there is overwhelming evidence that the current one has failed with the dry spell continuing countrywide,” he said.
Former Nkayi Rural District chairperson, Kufakwezwe Ncube, told the Financial Gazette that crops in the area were almost a write-off and there was no ward which was faring any better.
Areas such as Matheme and Jabulisa, bordering Gokwe South, which have done better in previous years, have also not been spared from the all-round crop failure.
“It is just hot and dry from ward 1 to ward 30,” said Ncube who is also a councillor.
“The situation is very bad and I do not really know what will become of us unless there is intervention from government. Some people had not even planted anything because the little rains that the district received were erratic. People are just hoping to receive rains for the sustenance of livestock, which is also in bad condition,” he added.
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