Dry spell sends farmers panicking
Farmers in the Midlands Province are beginning to press the panic button, amid revelations that crops in most parts of the province are starting to wilt owing to moisture stress. This comes as the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) forecasts a worrying rainfall pattern that is not suited for some crops in the province. Farmers who spoke to The Herald on Monday said the situation was bad.
“My crops are desperate for rains,” said Mr Mambo Moyo, a farmer in the Ngamo area of Gweru district. I am very worried that if we don’t receive any rains this week, my crops will be a write-off.” Another farmer, Mr Rabson Hove of Gokwe, said he was contemplating going to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to buy back the maize he delivered.
“Things are not looking good and I think I will be forced to go back to GMB, where I had delivered all my produce last year and buy back for stocking,” he said. Midlands’ provincial crops and livestock officer Mrs Madeline Magwenzi said they were still assessing the situation in the province as the dry spell continued.
“The province has been receiving erratic rainfall and we will be assessing the situation in the fields,” she said. MSD has since allayed fears that there would be a drought this season, saying most parts of the country will experience normal to above normal rains. Responding to questions sent by The Herald, the MSD said while the country forecasts normal rains, the distribution would be erratic.
“While most areas show mostly normal rainfall to date, the season has performed badly in terms of the rainfall distribution as some stations recorded normal rainfall in a space of a few days,” said the department. For example, Beitbridge is reporting above normal rainfall, which was received in one day. One thing that is evident, however, is the fact that the rainfall distribution has been poor and could remain poor for the remainder of the season.”
The department advised farmers with irrigation facilities to use them. “Irrigation is a must for those with infrastructure and available water sources,” said the department. “Farmers should follow the MSD short and medium range forecasts that give more detail on the forecast for the next 10 days and are useful for day-to-day activities.
“Different areas have been affected differently by the erratic rains, hence communal farmers could engage their nearest extension officers for more appropriate advice relevant to their area. Rainfall activity is anticipated between 10 to 25 January 2018, however, there are less chances of weekly accumulated rainfall that exceeds 70mm for the period 10 to 18 January.”
Most parts of the country, the department said, were expected to received between 16mm and 20mm in the next few days. Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland are expected to receive 16mm to 20mm in the next few days, according to MSD.