Grow short-season varieties, farmers urged

Nesia Mhaka recently in Birchenough Bridge
Government is encouraging farmers in Natural Regions Four and Five to grow early maturing and drought-resistant crops to improve their yields and ensure food security in the country.

Further, Government believes regions with low rainfall can turn to small grains which tolerate long spells without rainfall.

Addressing farmers in Buhera South last week, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri advised farmers to adapt and alleviate the effects of climate change by focusing on early maturing crops.

“This community, from my briefing, managed to have basic food during the 2018/2019 season, which was characterised by poor rainfall distribution both in space and time, due to the availability of the water (from boreholes) provided for climate change projects.

“The rains started late in the greater parts of Buhera. Dry spells were continuously experienced in the months of December, January and February and they were of varied lengths, resulting in crop stress and poor pasture regeneration,” said Minister Shiri.

He said the Ministry of Agriculture had put in place robust measures to address challenges posed by climate change in drought-prone areas, to ensure food security.

The ministry is expected to provide drought-resistant seeds to farmers under Command Agriculture.

Minister Shiri called on farmers to work closely with their extension workers and inputs suppliers so that they buy appropriate seed types that are able to withstand drought spells.

“As a ministry responsible for agriculture, we are recommending farmers to choose crop varieties appropriately after consultations with the agriculture extension officers.

“Water harvesting, conservation agriculture, growing of small grains, (and) having a variety of agriculture enterprises, should be practised. Also, farmers are encouraged to follow the regular updates from the Meteorological Services Department, and through local Agritex officers, regarding the weather so as to be guided accordingly,” he said.

Minister Shiri encouraged farmers to begin implementing irrigation development on their farms or gardens and to plant small grains that can adapt to dry season conditions.

Speaking during the same event, Climate Change Department acting chief director Mr Washington Zhakata said in the context of unprecedented climate change and food insecurity, adaptation in agriculture systems was of paramount importance in Regions Four and Five.

“Climate change scenarios show a drying trend and, as a result, adaptation in the agricultural sector should focus on strategies to conserve moisture, promotion of conservation agriculture, improved short-season seed varieties, especially for maize, (and) increased use of drought-resistant small grains is a key strategy,” he said.

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