Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
FARMERS planted 744 426 hectares of maize during the 2015-16 summer cropping season, a decline of 49 percent from the previous year, information from the Food and Agriculture Organisation has shown. According to the statistics, 1 531 663 hectares were put under maize last season. In 2013-14 season farmers had planted 1 721 030 hectares. The decline in maize production has been attributed to below normal rains that were poorly distributed in space and time.
Matabeleland South registered the highest decline in maize production with farmers planting 18 521ha compared to 101 995 the previous season. Matabeleland North registered a decline of 66 percent from 129 796ha last seasons to 44 281ha this season.
In Masvingo, farmers planted 66 668 ha, a decline of 65 percent from the 193 183 ha planted last year. Manicaland registered a decline of 54 percent from 216 469ha last year to 99 285ha this season, Mashonaland West planted 123 651ha, a decline of 45 percent from the 224 548ha last year while Midlands registered a decline of 44 percent from the 291 443ha last year to 163 273ha this year.
Farmers in Mashonaland East planted 122 546ha, a decline of 36 percent from the 191 335ha last year while Mashonaland Central registered a decline of 26 percent from the 182 894ha last year to 136 201ha this season.
El Nino resulted in poor and erratic rains. Farmers were advised to grow small grains. According to FAO, the maize crop condition is poor with as much as 75 percent written off in Masvingo and 65 percent in Matabeleland South provinces.
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said most crops were affected by the drought.
He said that farmers planted late, while others reduced the area put under maize.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa applauded Government for availing funds for cloud seeding.