Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
SADC climate experts have forecast a normal to above normal rainfall season for the bulk of the region as Government targets to plant above 1, 5 million hectares of maize during the 2014 /15 season.
A statement from the 18th Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (Sarcof 18) held in Namibia last week says the bulk of SADC will receive normal to above normal rainfall from October 2014 to February 2015.
“Central Mozambique, southern half of Malawi, north eastern half of Zimbabwe, the bulk of Zambia, south eastern half of Angola, bulk of Namibia and western half of Botswana have increased chances of normal to above normal.
“South western half of Zimbabwe, extreme south western Zambia, Zambezi area of Namibia and most of northern parts of South Africa have high chances of receiving normal to above normal rainfall in the first half of the season.
“However, northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), northern Madagascar and Mauritius are more likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall during the first and second halves of the season,” reads the report.
Meanwhile, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made yesterday urged farmers to speed up preparations as the summer cropping season was already underway.
“All farmers should be busy with preparations. This season we want to aim at an early crop as this will give us the best opportunity to attain high yields.
“Obviously Government is concerned that a number of facilities should be offered to farmers. We are expecting contract farming to intensify in cotton and tobacco,” he said.
Dr Made said emphasis was on grain production as the country depends on maize and small grains for food.
He said the ministry would engage President Mugabe to continue with the Presidential Well Wishers Scheme.
Maize production increased from 785 000 tonnes the previous season to above 1,4 million tonnes last season.
The increase was attributed to the Presidential Well Wishers Scheme.