By Zvamaida Murwira
THE Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has forecast heavy rains in excess of 50 millimetres across the country within 24 hours starting yesterday, bringing hope to farmers whose crops had begun showing signs of moisture stress.
In a statement yesterday, the MSD said: “The MSD wishes to advise the public of a countrywide wet spell expected from Wednesday 2 January till Thursday with a slight decline in rainfall activity over the areas to the south of the main watershed from Friday 4 January 2019. Moisture is entering the country from Botswana and South Africa and should result in widespread thunderstorms. Localised heavier falls (in excess of 50mm in 24 hours) cannot be ruled out especially in Masvingo, Manicaland provinces and Mashonaland East province. However, it should begin to dry out from the southwestern parts of the country (i.e. Matabeleland South) from Friday into the weekend,” said the MSD.
It warned of violent storms.
“It is also important to note that the combination of this moisture together with heat is usually accompanied by violent storms, coupled with lightning, hail and damaging winds. The department will continue monitoring the conditions and update the public accordingly. The department also requests the public to provide feedback or information through Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp on disasters as it is not everywhere,” said th MSD.
Federation of Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said the prolonged dry spell had affected crops.
“Rainfall fed crops situation is generally very poor due to the long dry spell since the second week of December 2018. Emerged crops are struggling especially in sandy and gravelly soils. The bulk of the other crops have not yet emerged. Effective rains this week will definitely correct the situation,” said Mr Chabikwa.
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said crops were showing signs of moisture distress.
“The crop situation is not looking good at all. Countrywide, crops are stressed and in some areas the situation is bordering around early wilting stages. Rain, in good measure, is needed now,” said Mr Zakariya.
“Our national yield is a function of many factors put together. The late onset of the rains, rainfall distribution, availability and affordability of inputs and crop management all contribute to what may be the result of the season. It is, however, too soon to make any reasonable prediction of the yields,” he said.
He said farmers should brace themselves for a difficult season.
“Going forward, it will be important for us all to appreciate the changes in climate and be more prepared. Climate smart agriculture that recognises strategies for both climate change adaptation and mitigation will do the country a great deal in averting seasonal losses.”
Source : The Herald