Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Government has embarked on a nationwide crop and livestock assessment to determine the total crop area, availability of pastures and water, and the state of the crops and livestock.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos confirmed the exercise.
“The national crop and livestock assessment is usually done at the end of January of each year. The national verification teams will be deployed this week. This will assist us in formally communicating the correct information from the ground to the nation,” he said.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said preliminary reports indicated that the bulk of the crops were in good condition, although effects of the El Nino phenomenon were evident in some parts of the country.
“Unfortunately, the effects of the El Nino cannot be ignored, with some parts of the country being affected, dampening the possibility of a bumper crop in certain areas,” he said.
“I am confident that if we receive meaningful rainfall in February, most crops will recover and get meaningful yields. This will assist in complementing our existing stock of maize, which should result in us having enough maize this season, meaning we will not need to import the cereal for a third year in a row.”
Deputy Minister Haritatos said although the water level in major dams was still good, they had been affected by the El Nino.
He said Government was repairing dams that needed urgent attention and building more dams to mitigate any natural disturbances such as the El Nino phenomenon.
“We encourage our farmers to diversify into not only growing the major grains, to cotton production or small grains such as millet, sorghum, and other legumes, which require less water.
“Our farmers have done a great job and we will continue to support them, and push them to utilise their land to ensure productivity and efficiencies are met. As a ministry, we understand the role that mechanisation plays in ensuring the efficient use of land, and we have signed agreements with suppliers of tractors, combines, and planters to assist our farmers.
“One such example, which stems from His Excellency President Mnangagwa’s very successful trip to Eastern Europe recently, is the supply of these items from Belarus. As Government we cannot provide all the support in mechanisation to our nation.
“We, therefore, encourage other private players to also get involved in supplying the nation with critical equipment such as tractors, planters, combine harvesters and bailers.”
Zimbabwe Farmers Union president Mr Abdul Nyathi said crops were in good condition in most provinces.
“The weather conditions have divided the country into two parts. The situation is bad in the southern areas; Masvingo, Matabeleland and Manicaland as the bulk of the crops are wilting and may reach permanent wilting stage if we do not get any meaningful rains by end of the month,” added Mr Nyathi.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Shadreck Makombe said livestock farmers were having challenges accessing dipping chemicals and vaccines as they were either not available on the market or were expensive.