Evans S Zininga Correspondent
In Zimbabwe, drought is a natural disaster or hazard which causes little and times large structural damages across the various aspects of the industries in the country.
Cattle and game farmers, crop producers, pastures and forestry plantations all suffer huge losses due to the effects of this phenomenon.
The major shift will ordinarily come from a stand point of Government obligations, farmers’ obligations and paying attention to the by standers of the common communities – commenting and pointing fingers but yet, doing nothing about the challenges drought poses for the nation. Drought scares every farmer and until hence, it is important to provide a good explanation on its impact, effect and mitigation.
This is a potential national disaster which calls for proper interrogations into how farmers and their businesses can survive in and through in.
Global analysts say this one could break the record as the worst of our times.
Is Zimbabwe ready?
Is the Government ready?
Is importing Maize from Zambia and Malawi the ultimate solution?
Does the country even have the financial capacity to pull that one off and cover the gap on the national deficit?
Government needs to have a policy that assures the nation that we are prepared and have mitigation plans in place.
The farmers, traders and consumers need that. A basic preparedness and mitigation plan should have the following nuggets; Prediction, Monitoring, Impact assessment and Response.
Drought prediction should be a part of the weather forecast main assignments. Government should appreciate and invest in appropriate technology and trained manpower to keep the relevant ministries guided and informed.
This can benefit from climate studies, ocean/atmospheric models, rainfall patterns surveys, anomalous circulation patterns in the ocean/atmosphere, soil moisture and data assimilations.
Zimbabwe’s Weather Bureau unpredictability has to end and a formal digital system put in place to allow proper prediction in time. The earlier we all know, the better for planning and managing the crisis. Monitoring of drought patterns, regimes and its observations do make sense in some countries and it should make sense in Zimbabwe too.
All that is needed is reliable ground based weather information such as rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed, crop condition, water availability and trends analysis.
Satellite Observations can then be used to compliment this data collection and come up with a synoptic, wide – area coverage with contact to detail.
This allows a close monitoring of the past, present and possibly the future in as far as drought scares are concerned.
Drought impact assessments are based on land use, soil types, persistence of stressed condition demographics and existence of infrastructure.
The extent of the intensity and area boundaries has an impact on agricultural yield, public health, water quality and quantity and building subsidence.
This data is used to rationalise the standards and policy formulations to help the government to come up with detailed solutions to protect the nation.
Response is key in any pandemic situation that poses a threat to the country.
This is why some situations call for a state of emergency in countries affected.
Responding in time is very crucial if efforts engaged are going to successfully save lives; human lives, plant lives and animal lives. There is need for a functional response structure. This should cover all panic buttons available.
Farmers need better water and crop management for our farms. They need an augmentation of water supplies with ground water and increased public awareness on conservation.
There is need to educate the local agriculture extension workers on fundamental aspects of responding to a drought scare, so that everyone is ready for it when it comes. Farmers need to be aware of options in Irrigation and watering systems that save water.
This dwelled on a more corporate and national or policy level. It can be brought down to farm level for the benefit of the rural folks, small scale and subsistence farmers. Important issues can be deliberated on soil and water conservation for the cropping farmers, and herd management for the animal farmers. This covers the major aspects of drought its impact on the flora and fauna face of Agro-Production in Zimbabwe.
Government and corporate structures have their part to play, the farmers also have their part to play at farm level to reduce the impact of drought.
Drought can be managed, it can be controlled and monitored. The engagement of various tools and operations can be employed to ensure that there is continuity and life after the drought is gone.
The world should expect more droughts to come as the effects of climate change, global warming and digitalisation take their toll on the earth.
- Evans Zininga is an Agriculture Business and Investments Consultant, Agronomist, Post-Harvest Technology Researcher and author. He is currently based in the US. He can be contacted on [email protected]