Met Services warns farmers against early crop planting

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Sindiso Mhlophe

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

mhlophes@dailynews.co.zw

THE Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has warned farmers against planting crops early, saying Zimbabwe has not yet received effective rains, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the country has received some rainfall over the last three days, which has seen some farmers planting their summer crops while others are still preparing for the season.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, the MSD’s senior forecaster Tich Zinyemba said the rains that were received over the past few days were erratic and could not support the germination and growth of crops.

“The rains that we have received so far have been erratic and as such farmers should not rush to plant their crops, unless of course they have irrigation, but for now it is too early to plant.

“I would also advise farmers to visit their agricultural extension officers who can give them further details on when exactly it would be safe to start planting for this season. If you look at the weather today (yesterday), although it rained in the morning, you will notice that it is getting warmer.

“This indicates that we are moving towards dryer and warmer conditions for the next couple of days. As such, farmers should be wary and watch closely what is happening in the atmosphere but those with irrigation can go ahead and plant,” Zinyemba said.

“For farmers to be able to plant we need to have received what we call effective rains. This means that the rains will be sufficient for germination and crop growth even if it does not rain for days. So at this stage it’s still early for planting, we have not received effective rains to support germination and to sustain the crops.”

The MSD’s latest weather forecast indicated that the next couple of days would be warm and mostly sunny across the country.

“The weather forecast for Wednesday, October 14, 2020 would be brief cloudy periods and a cool morning is anticipated over Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces, becoming warm and mostly sunny by the afternoon. Elsewhere, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands, Mashonaland West, Bulawayo and Harare Metropolitan, mostly sunny and warm conditions should carry the day, though mild both early morning and late evening,” the MSD said.

This comes as the MSD predicted that the country was expected to receive above normal to normal rainfall for the 2020-2021season owing to the La Nina effect — a weather pattern that normally results in more rainfall to its opposite the El Nino, which often results in prolonged dry spells and droughts.

“Region 1, which comprises the bulk of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, north eastern parts of the Midlands and parts of Manicaland, will receive normal to above normal rains from October 2020 to March 2021. Region 2, which consists of the bulk of Matabeleland North, parts of Midlands, and parts of Mashonaland West will receive normal to below normal rainfall during the period October to December 2020 and receive normal to above normal rainfall for the period January to March 2021.

“Region 3, which consists of Masvingo, most parts of Midlands, extreme southern parts of Manicaland and the bulk of Matabeleland South will have normal to above normal rains from January to March 2021,” Environment minister Mangaliso Ndlovu recently said while presenting the 2020-21 seasonal forecast for Zimbabwe.

It also comes as the nation is moving towards agricultural mechanisation and modernisation in a bid to boost production and food security, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently launching a US$51 million mechanisation facility from the United States-headquartered John Deere Company and another one worth the same amount from Belarus.

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