Half the maize crop in Masvingo is nearly a write-off due to erratic rainfall, raising fears of food shortages in the region.
Local farmers had mainly planted maize and other small grains but Masvingo provincial Agritex official Peter Chamisa said the crops are now suffering from severe moisture stress.
The worst affected areas include Chivi, Chiredzi, Mwenezi and Gutu districts while some farmers in other districts such as Bikita and Zaka have given up on planting altogether due to the dry spell.
“We are still conducting our first survey around the province and the crop situation is not pleasing at all,” said Chamisa.
“The crops are pathetic; this dry spell has affected production which will also affect the yield. If we do not get rains this week, most crops, especially maize, will not make it to the harvesting stage.”
Last season, local farmers supplied in excess of 78,000 metric tonnes of grain to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), a target which will be an uphill task to meet this year.
“This is a difficult and most expensive farming season for us. Most of the crops are now in bad shape and will have to re-plant if we receive meaningful rains,” said Denford Chisuko, a farmer in Gutu.