Stressed crops in need of rains

Scattered clouds and isolated thunder showers over Manicaland, Harare Metropolitan and all Mashonal and provinces were experienced yesterday with Chipinge only recording significant rains of 10mm.

In Harare some areas received light rains in the afternoon and significant rains last night.

This comes as farmers are worried over the deteriorating condition of crops due to the continuous high temperatures and dry conditions.

Livestock condition has been reported to be good in some areas although tick borne diseases have continued to kill cattle.

In Mashonaland West, most crops are showing signs of moisture stress as farmers hope that the plants will recover if they receive rains soon.

Provincial Agritex officer, Mrs Evelyn Ndoro, said crops in Kariba, Sanyati and some parts of Mhondoro and Hurungwe districts were showing signs of moisture stress with farmers hoping for rains to salvage mainly maize and soyabeans crops.

She said drought-resistant crops like sorghum, sunflower and cotton and those planted under the Climate-Proof Pfumvudza scheme were doing fine.

A survey by The Herald at MariMari Village in Ward 5 under Sanyati district showed that some crops were already a write off.

Ms Tendai Manenji said they had last received rains close to about three months ago although she quickly pointed out that crops planted under Pfumvudza were doing well.

In Zvimba and Makonde districts, farmers were optimistic of a bumper harvest as their area had been receiving some rains.

The Midlands province has been hit by tick borne diseases with over 400 cattle having already succumbed to January disease.

Midlands provincial veterinary services director, Dr Martin Sibanda, said illegal movement of cattle was hampering efforts to control the disease.

Dr Sibanda said there had been a new variant of tick-borne disease which they are still monitoring.

“What is giving headaches to most veterinary practitioners is that there seems to be a new variant of ticks which is common in areas with high rainfall patterns that is now affecting the whole province. This is also due to illegal movement of cattle across districts,” he said.

The dry spell has affected the 2021/22 summer cropping season in most areas around the Beitbridge district where most farmers are anxious that they may incur losses should there be no rains in the next 14 days.

The district agronomist, Ms Eve Kuza, said pearl millet, Bambara nuts, cowpeas, groundnuts, and sorghum were in a fair condition and not yet at vegetative stage.

She said the maize planted under the Intwasa/Pfumvudza initiative were in a fair condition while those planted under conventional method had started wilting due to moisture stress.

“Most of this maize is around the late vegetative and tasselling stages.

“The situation is very critical in Beitbridge west’s wards 7, 8, and 9 and we are advising farmers to mulch the crops and we are hopeful that we will have rains soon,” said Ms Kuza.

Ms Grace Ndou of Tshamnaga in Ward 5 said most of her maize crop had started wilting and that she was considering irrigating.

Another farmer from the Mathavha area in Ward 6, Mr Thikathali Mbedzi said his crop had been adversely affected by the dry spell and that he was likely to get a reduced yield.

Farmers in Mashonaland East Province said early crops which were planted in November and December are now being affected by the dry spell which is sweeping across the country.

A2 Farmer Mr Brighton Bvukumbwe said they incurred losses of about 20 to 25 percent already on crops which were planted in November and December last year.

“This dry spell has affected us, especially on crops which were planted in November and December.”

“All crops were affected whether it is sugar beans or maize with this dry spell. About 20 to 25 percent of the crop has already been affected.”

Livestock farmers in Mashonaland East are dipping their livestock to control tick borne diseases.

Mr Abel Marimo said the department of veterinary services is providing them with chemicals and proper guidance.

“This year we are not worried about January disease as department of animal science and veterinary is providing us with suitable treatment for ticks,” he said.

Others farmers are now worried that the pastures were being depleted and the situation could become bad if the dry spell continues.

Another farmer Mr Lancelot Dumba said they are now embracing for a severe drought in their area.

“In Zviyambe area, the rains last fell end of December. We thought we would benefit from the Cyclone Ana induced rains in January but that was not it. The maize crop is a write off. The same applies to cowpeas and groundnuts. In short we going to experience drought effects this year. There is need for food aid,” he said.

In Masvingo, the crop situation is still fairly good in some areas for the early planted maize crop though in most areas late planted maize is showing severe signs of moisture stress.

Most parts of the province last received meaningful rains at the end of January to the first week of February a situation that has most affected the late planted maize across the seven districts.

In Gutu, Bikita northern parts of Zaka and Masvingo districts a survey by The Herald showed that both the early planted crop and the late maize crop remained fairly good, but the latter was beginning to show signs of moisture stress especially during the day when temperatures would be high.

In Chiredzi, Mwenezi southern parts of Zaka and Chivi both the early and late planted maize was showing signs of severe moisture stress owing to the prolonged dry spell.

Farmers said they were hopeful rains would fall in the near future and rescue their maize crop from becoming a complete write-off.

Masvingo provincial Agritex Officer Mr Aaron Muchazivepi said the full extent of the prevailing dry spell was still being assessed but noted that late planted maize was in bad shape.

“Early planted maize is still fairly good in some areas but late planted maize is now showing signs of moisture stress because of the prolonged dry spell,” said Mr Muchazivepi.

However, the condition of other crops such as sesame, sorghum and millet remained satisfactory in most areas.

Most districts across Masvingo fall under region 4 and 5 which receive below normal rainfall annually with maize flourishing only under irrigation.

In Mashonaland Central, provincial agronomist Mr Izzah Jaide said they have compiled and submitted a report to the Minister of Lands Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka pertaining the state of crops in Mashonaland Central due to the dry spell. Herald.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *