By Munyaradzi Musiiwa
Farmers in the Midlands Province are grappling with a high livestock mortality rate of as a result of a prolonged dry spell that the province experienced for the greater part of the summer cropping season.
The dire situation was also exacerbated by veld fires that destroyed vast acres of grazing land during last year’s fire season.
Midlands provincial crop and livestock officer Mrs Madeline Magwenzi said a snapshot assessment by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement showed that Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Kwekwe and Gokwe North districts were the most affected.
Mrs Magwenzi said the province dispatched a team to conduct a crop and livestock assessment throughout the eight districts to ascertain the magnitude of the effects of the dry spell.
“We are starting to see the effects of drought,” she said. “Our livestock in the province is dying. A snapshot survey that we conducted in the province showed that Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Kwekwe and Gokwe North districts are the most affected.
“We do not have figures at the moment. However, as we speak, we are in Shurugwi doing a crop and livestock assessment. We are conducting the assessment throughout the province and we hope that we would have finished by end of the month.”
Mrs Magwenzi said the state of the crop was devastating and drought was looming.
“In terms of crops, our situation is bad,” she said. “It looks like we are going to have drought in some areas. Most crops on dry land are in a bad state. Although we received late rains, we feel that they cannot help because we are already past the planting season.”
Midlands provincial irrigation officer, Engineer Shingirirai Zano, said there are about 42 communal irrigation schemes in the province of which 35 were fully operational.
“As a province, we have 42 irrigation schemes,” he said. “Of the 42, 35 are fully operational and the remaining seven are operating below capacity due to various reasons.
“We have a programme under the Public Sector Investment Programme of revitalising all irrigation schemes in the province so that they operate at 100 percent capacity. Government also has a programme to irrigate 200 000 hectares per district as it moves to ensure food security in the country.
“The programme is ongoing. We will be rehabilitating some irrigation schemes while some will be upgraded.”