Patchy rains to persist

Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Rains are expected to continue across the country, although heavy falls will be localised, the Meteorological Services Department has said. MSD senior forecaster Mr Tich Zinyemba yesterday said the department was also carrying out cloud seeding to aid rainfall.

“We last carried out cloud seeding on February 14 and we will continue to do so as long as available clouds are conducive for the operation.

“The rains will continue, but they will be patchy. The trend is expected to continue until end of the season. We are still going to have normal to below normal rainfall during the January and March period,” he said.

Since Sunday and yesterday, Mr Zinyemba said some areas received localised meaningful rains.

On Monday, Mutare received 67mm, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport 29mm, Rusape 17mm, Masvingo 16mm, Zvishavane 15mm.

On Tuesday rainfalls were recorded in Nkayi, 50mm, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo 26mm, Henderson 25mm Tsholotsho 22mm, Lupane 31mm and Gweru 14mm.

Meanwhile, the condition of crops and livestock has continued to deteriorate despite the recent rains received in most parts of the country.

Areas such as Mashonaland East, West and Central have some areas that have a good crop.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union director Mr Paul Zakariya,’ said development of crops mostly depended on moisture and in most areas evaporation had increased because of the high temperatures.

“The rains were delayed by two months and by end of December most farmers were still planting.

“Some crops and livestock had recovered from the drought but are now showing signs of stress. Some farmers in areas with moisture are top dressing their crops while others can not applying an the fertilisers due to hot weather,” he said.

Mr Zakariya said any crop that was still below the knee height had low chances of maturing.

On livestock he said cattle had continued to die as a result of drought.

“Government has been urging farmers to de-stock but there are few takers of the livestock. Who will buy the bad conditioned animals? Obviously, farmers will not realise any meaningful profits from the livestock,” he said.

Some livestock farmers are receiving assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organisation in terms of stockfeeds.

The farmers complained that Government should have made plans soon after the El Nino was focast to reduce casualties.

“We understand Government is cash strapped but in future, plans should be made well ahead. There should be a disaster management in place to assist farmers during famines. Not all farmers can afford to come up with mitigation strategies.

“Government should continue mobilising stakeholders for assistance,” he said.

Zimbabwe National Farmers Union vice president Mr Garikayi Msika said the situation in most areas was dire and little was expected from this season.

“The situation is dire and has been made worse by the heat wave. The temperatures are so high that in some areas animals that had recovered are now affected.

“Some pastures had recovered due to the recent rains but the high temperatures have resurfaced,” he said.

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