DESPITE looming hunger and drought across the country, some farmers are still crossing their fingers for a reasonable harvest.
The sparse rainfall pattern that has characterised this year’s summer cropping season has been a nightmare for many farmers.
But the current rains have brought smiles to a few others in Mashonaland Central where modest harvests are expected, if the rains persist.
In this part of the country, rains have been sufficient enough for crops to flourish.
Provincial Agriculture Extension officer, Stancilae Tapererwa last week said the greater part of the province had received moderate rains, sufficient to recharge soil moisture to revive planted crops that were beginning to wilt in the scorching heat.
Most farmers had to replant because most of their early-planted crop had wilted beyond recovery.
“The situation this season is different with Guruve, receiving some favourable rains recently; Mazowe also being one of the areas receiving good rains, while the greater part of the Mazowe district has been receiving rains consistently. If these rains persist, the province will have good yields,” said Tapererwa while encouraging farmers to use soil and water conservation techniques.
“Farmers should learn to use soil and water conservation techniques as much as possible to mitigate imminent climatic changes which have seen seasons becoming shorter and shorter every year. Where water bodies are available, irrigation is also encouraged,” he added.
Mashonaland Central had a maize surplus of 72 000 tonnes from the 2014 – 2015 cropping season.
A Shamva-based farmer, Munyaradzi Katumbu, said they had become hopeless and were about to give up as their crops had been destroyed by the heat wave.
“The rains have rejuvenated some crops because the situation in our province was getting out of hand. We can’t say the crop situation is good, but it is rather fair. Most of the crop was at wilting point. The good thing is that the bulk of the crop was still at knee height and can still recover and some of it we had to replant,” said Katumbu.
“We just pray for more rainfalls so that we can harvest a modest crop. We still need more rainfalls for us to achieve a reasonably good harvest,” added Katumbu.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a severe drought and would require more than one million tonnes of food aid for both human and livestock consumption.
Most provinces, namely Matabeleland North and South, Masvingo, the southern parts of Manicaland and some parts of the Midlands and Mashonaland East provinces, have been badly affected by prolonged dry spells.
In most parts of Manicaland, both early and late planted crops are wilting.
Recently, President Robert Mugabe declared a state of emergency and asked development partners to help mitigate the situation as the Southern African Development Community faces one of its worst droughts to hit the region in 30 years. –Idah Mhetu firstname.lastname@example.org
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