Home » Business » Irrigation No Longer an Option – Dr Makarau

ZIMBABWE, lying on the same belt with Namibia and Botswana, which both have vast swathes of desert, is heavily exposed to desertification as weather extremes become more severe and much more prolonged.As Zimbabwe’s weather undergoes metamorphosis, with the traditional rainfall season shifting, Government should plan for droughts every year and make irrigation a must to minimise the effects of climate change.

Every sector should mainstream weather and climate in their development plans as the impacts are cross-cutting.

Zimbabwe weather extremes are becoming more severe and much more prolonged, particularly floods and droughts.

Droughts are becoming much more frequent and prolonged, at the same time flooding events are becoming much more intense as a result of climate change.

During the country’s main rainfall season, November rains are becoming less. The traditional summer rainfall season starts from October to April the following year. October rains are slightly increasing but are not enough to actually affect crop production.

November, which is the month most areas of Zimbabwe plant crops, is witnessing less and less rainfall.

While there is no problem with December rainfall, there is a problem with January where rains have been erratic and less.

February is fine but March again is getting less rainfall and this is pronounced in the southern parts of the country including Masvingo.

“In other words we are talking about desertification coming to Zimbabwe,” said weather expert and director of the Meteorological Services Department Dr Amos Makarau.

“We are in a belt which is highly prone to desertification. Obviously as we get less and less rainfall and more deforestation taking place in those areas, there is actually a threat of desertification,” said Dr Makarau.

The problem with Zimbabwe’s climate is that about 90 percent of agriculture is rain-fed and once the country gets less rainfall in November, it means therefore that the planting dance will vary.

“Again if we have less rainfall in January, the crops will not have moisture and will not grow.

“Also in March, if there is less rainfall the crops will not get to the required size. So we have a problem with our climate as regards climate change,” said Dr Makarau.

Following extensive research, weather experts are proposing that irrigation becomes the country’s central focus.

“It is no longer an option and therefore Government should put more investment on irrigation,” he said.

Secondly, because of what is going on with climate, Zimbabwe should expect a drought every year.

“Those are policy issues that we are saying to Government despite our forecasts, it is very rare for Zimbabwe to have adequate rainfall everywhere. Some areas will have fewer rains mainly because of what’s happening on this belt. As far as we are concerned, until irrigation is in place we should plan for drought.

Government is in the process of developing a climate change policy which seeks to make sure that every sector takes climate on board.

Source : The Herald