Home » General » Crops Wilt As Dry Spell Persists

THE continued dry spell in most parts of the country has seriously affected crops, especially maize, threatening hopes of good yields. The outbreak of armyworm and quelea birds has worsened the situation for maize and sorghum farmers.

The Meteorological Services Department had forecast heavy rains in some parts of the country from Friday last week to tomorrow (Tuesday).

Farmers in the southern parts of the country have lost hope of a harvest and said even if the rains come, the crops would not recover.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union president, Mr Abdul Nyathi, said most farmers in Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South have been severely affected, especially those who planted maize.

“The maize is a write-off and it will never recover even if it rains as we have gone for too long without rains. There is still hope for some small grains if it rains.

“At the moment it is very hot in Gwanda and the crops have wilted.

“The situation is bad and farmers have lost hope.

“The season has been so bad,” he said.

Mr Nyathi said the rains had not been favourable for crop production as they were heavy in some areas causing flooding and leaching while some areas did not receive enough for crop development.

“In some areas maize was affected by leaching and it is yellow and not developing well. This will compromise yields.

“The armyworm has done some damage and now we have received reports of web worm which is affecting maize,” he said.

He said the armyworm outbreak was under control.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said the crop condition in most parts of the country was good except for the southern regions where maize has been severely affected by the dry spell.

“The southern parts of the country have gone for 10 days without receiving rains and the weather is hot.

“If we get to 14 days without receiving rains most of the crops in the southern region will be a write-off.

“We hope it rains so that those who planted small grains will have food.

“We have encouraged farmers in the dry areas to grow small grains but some of them prefer maize, which they say tastes better,” he said.

Plant Protection and Research Institute director Dr Godfrey Chikwenhere said while the armyworm outbreak was now under control there were new challenges caused by quelea birds and web worm.

“The armyworm is not causing any problems at the moment as the moths are now laying eggs. Quelea birds have wrecked havoc in Mashonaland Central in Muzarabani area and West Nicholson in Matabeleland South.

“We are being assisted by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority in controlling the birds,” he said.

He said the web worm was affecting maize in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and some parts of Mashonaland East, especially areas around Harare.

Dr Chikwenhere said teams from the PPRI and Agritex were on the ground to assess the damage and curb the pest.

He aised farmers to drive away the birds during the day.

Meanwhile, the MSD head of forecasting, Mr Tich Zinyemba, said there will be an increase in rainfall activity across the country, with a bias of heavier falls to the north-east in Mashonaland Provinces Harare and the North of Manicaland.

“These falls should be increasing gradually as the week progresses with 30mm in 24hrs being expected in some areas. The amounts should gradually decline from north to south.

“Please note that we are experiencing high temperatures at the moment, and therefore these can result in violent storms, in terms of g winds, hail and lightning. We urge the public to take the necessary precautions to avoid damage to life and property,” he said.

Zimbabwe is expected to receive normal to above normal rains during this season but these are not good for Agriculture.

Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made, has said there was need to invest in irrigation to aid agriculture.

He said due to climate change, farmers could no longer rely on rain-fed agriculture as the patterns were no longer predictable.

Source : The Herald

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