The Sunday Mail
Fears of Zimbabwe facing drought-induced maize shortages this season are premature as assessments on the impact of the ongoing wet spell are not yet complete, Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Chief Air Marshal (Retired) Perrance Shiri, and experts have said.
A prolonged dry spell in January affected much of the country, raising fears of food insecurity.
However, Government has assured the nation that in the unlikely event of poor yields, the country had enough grain from last year’s Command Agriculture-spurred bumper harvest.
In an interview last week, Rtd Chief Air Marshal Shiri said: “A crop assessment is currently underway.
“It is not a secret that in January our crops suffered in many parts of the country, but the impact of the dry spell can only be ascertained once the exercise has been completed. I do not want to speculate; let us await for the Crop Assessment Report.”
Asked on timelines for the Crop Assessment Report, the minister said: “We are talking about a couple of weeks or so, but I cannot give a specific date.”
Seed Co head of agronomy and extension services Mr John Bhasera said there was hope for good yields.
“Both maize and soyabeans are benefiting positively from the late rains because they are at the most critical stage of growth, which is the flowering stage and tasselling of the plants. These rains also have the advantage that they suppress some pests through the endo-parisitic scenario.”
Mr Bhasera advised farmers to be wary of crop diseases that are also caused by the rains.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa also said the rains in the second half of the cropping season have brought hope.
“The January drought was very severe particularly for those that planted in December. On the positive side, we had crops that had not reached permanent wilting point and even some of those crops that were planted in December have received a new lease of life,” he said.