Cabinet has directed the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement to urgently institute a crop and livestock assessment to see the impact of the prolonged dry spell, to guide efforts to alleviate the situation.
There are concerns over the prospects for the 2018/19 agricultural season in light of the prolonged dry spell being experienced in the country.
This came out of the Cabinet meeting held last week.
The ministry conducted the first round of crop assessment to determine the hectarage planted and will now go into the second and final assessment to determine the effects of the dry spell and determine the final yields.
Meanwhile, farmers have expressed concern over the dry spell which they say has affected both crops and livestock, with others hoping that pastures will improve as a result of Cyclone Idai.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Shadreck Makombe yesterday confirmed that the situation was worrisome, especially in Masvingo, Matabeleland, parts of Midlands and Manicaland.
He said pastures had also been affected due to dry weather conditions.
“Dam levels are also going down,” said Mr Makombe.
“Very soon, people and animals will be competing for water. We are worried about the effects of Cyclone Idai, but also hopeful that it improves water availability and the condition of pastures.
“These rains will not do much to the bulk of the crops that have already been affected by the dry spell.”
Mr Makombe encouraged livestock farmers to destock so that they do not lose their cattle.
“Livestock is in bad condition in Masvingo and Matabeleland as there is no water,” he said.
“We experience these dry conditions normally between August and September and not in March.
“In future, farmers should always take heed of the advice of water harvesting.”
Mr Makombe said ZCFU was engaging Government to assist in the movement of hay from areas of surplus to areas of deficit.
“We used to get stock feeds from the Grain Marketing Board, but now the institution is prioritising people,” he said.
“We are also appealing to the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry to carry out awareness campaigns to discourage people from burning the veld as this will worsen the situation.”
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union president Mr Abdul Nyathi expressed concern over the deteriorating situation of livestock, especially in the southern region.
Recently, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri revealed that the country had more than 1,3 million tonnes of maize in stock, enough to feed the country until the next harvest.
Minister Shiri said as at November 1 last year, Command Agriculture had delivered 318 673 tonnes of maize, which is 28 percent of total deliveries of 1 138 322 tonnes to GMB.
He said the Strategic Grain Reserves stock of maize is 500 000 tonnes and the commercial stock stood at 823 593 tonnes and when combined, they are sufficient to feed the country up to the next harvest or even some months after the next harvest.
Source : The Herald