Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent—
Government has urged the nation not to panic over erratic rains this season, saying if the worse comes to the worst, the country has enough grain reserves. Zimbabwe has been experiencing a dry spell since the beginning of the year, sending the nation into panic mode. Indications are that the dry spell could persist, amid reports are that most crops — particularly in the southern half of the country — were now a write-off.
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Davis Marapira said the country had 500 000 tonnes of maize in its strategic grain reserve, which was enough to sustain the country up to next year. He said the public should not panic regardless of the prolonged dry spell because most crops under irrigation were still in a better condition.
He said the country last year had a bumper-harvest which reduced the number of people in need of food aid. “While we acknowledge that we had below average rainfall so far this summer cropping season, people should not panic because we have more than 500 000 tonnes of maize in our strategic grain reserve. This can sustain us for close to a year. Last year we had good rains and people had a bumper harvest. In terms of maize most communal farmers still have food.
“Also our crop is not a complete write-off. There are other areas where crops are still in a better condition. We also have crop which is under irrigation, so people should not panic at all,” he said. President Mnangagwa also recently assured the nation of food security.
Addressing Chiefs at the Chiefs Indaba in Gweru recently, President Mnangagwa said the country last year produced in excess of 2 million tonnes of maize following the successful implementation of Command Agriculture. He said the country had adequate stocks of grain which could sustain the nation up to next year.
“Gore rakapera takaita Command Agriculture ndini ndaiitungamirira. Takafamba maprovinces ese tichiita ikafamba zvakanaka tikawana goho rakanaka. Chibage chinodiwa chestrategic grain reserve tinacho chinokwana gore tinacho nechimwe chinoraudzira chakasara excess zvekuti kana tichida kutengesa tinokwanisa,” he said.
The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) recently advised farmers to irrigate their crops to guarantee good harvests. “Irrigation is a must for those with infrastructure and availability of water sources. Follow the MSD short and medium range forecasts which give more detail on the forecast for the next 10 days and are useful for day to day activities. 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,” said MSD in a statement.