Elita Chikwati and Mary Muradzikwa
The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) will today release the 2018-19 national rainfall forecast to guide stakeholders, in various sectors. Farmers have already started preparations for the 2018-19 summer cropping season.
The 2018-19 National Climate Outlook Forum comes after Sadc member-states met last week in Zambia for the 2018-19 seasonal climate outlook for the region.
The seasonal rainfall forecast will inform the nation about the rainfall expected in different agro-ecological regions.
This will guide farmers to make informed decisions.
The forecast is useful for disaster preparedness and management, agriculture and food security, water and energy and health sectors, among others.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Mr Wonder Chabikwa yesterday said farmers had already started preparing for the 2018-19 cropping season.
Some are already buying inputs.
He said most farmers were benefiting from Government inputs programmes — the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme and Command Agriculture.
Cotton farmers had also started receiving inputs under the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme.
“Inputs distribution under the Presidential Inputs Scheme started early July,” said Mr Chabikwa.
“Inputs are usually received between October and November and it is good that the inputs under the Presidential scheme have been distributed early.
“Distribution of inputs under Command Agriculture is also in progress after contractual process. Distribution is in process for those who concluded the contracts.”
Mr Chabikwa said inputs which were under distribution now included fuel, agrochemicals and fertiliser.
Seed Co Zimbabwe agronomy and extensions services manager Mr John Basera said the seasonal outlook was important in helping farmers to make critical decisions such as the actual cropping programme for the season, the choice of crop, varietal spread and fertilisers to be used.
He said the information also helped farmers in determining the timing and type of land preparations to be adopted.
“For instance, when a seasonal forecast points to low rainfall, we will recommend farmers to plough deep to conserve moisture,” said Mr Basera. “Seasonal outlooks are also essential in determining spacing and plant population density management.
“When a seasonal forecast point to less rainfall, then we will recommend farmers to reduce population per unit area to reduce competition for moisture.
“Short to medium term forecasts are essential at operational level so the farmer can make informed decisions on when to plant, for example when to plant, spray chemicals and fertiliser application.”
Mr Basera said farmers are recommended to plant with the first effective rains to maximise yields, and short to medium terms.
“Generally, seasonal weather outlooks helps farmers cope better with climatic variations at planning and operational levels,” he said.
Climate experts have always encouraged Government to prepare for a drought every year because rainfall distribution is not the same in all areas.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority recently assured the nation that major dams had adequate water for domestic use and irrigation despite the decline in water levels due to the high temperatures being experienced in the country.
Zinwa corporate communications manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said the dam levels were now receding due to the rising temperatures.