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Govt optimistic on harvests

Govt optimistic on harvests | The Herald


Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
GOVERNMENT has remained optimistic that the nation could salvage good harvests, despite poor rains received at the beginning of the summer cropping season.

The country has endured a prolonged dry spell since November last year resulting in most crops becoming a write-off. However, the country last week received above average rainfall, which is expected to stretch to this week.

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has since warned of heavy storms accompanied by damaging winds, lightning, hail and flash flooding that could destroy infrastructure.

In a statement, MSD Head — Public Weather Services Mr Tich Zinyemba warned that the country could receive in excess of 55 mm on average daily during the same period. Mr Zinyemba said the Department of Civil Protection, Local Authorities, the Police and power utilities should be on high alert.

“Following the Alert that the Meteorological Services Department issued on 1 February 2018, more heavy rain is forecast from Thursday 8 to Monday 12 and it is, therefore, necessary to extend this warning to Tuesday 13 February,” he said.

The period Mr Zinyemba said should occasionally be characterised by heavy rain in excess of 50mm in 24 hours in some places, but mainly along and north of the central watershed as well as the eastern highlands. He said indications are that the rain may be sharp downpours accompanied by damaging winds, lightning, hail and flash flooding.

“Uprooting of trees and damage to infrastructure is possible with this type of rain intensity. The Department by way of this press release is alerting responsible authorities such as the Department of Civil Protection, Local Authorities, the Police and power utilities to be on the alert for the duration of the period.

“The Department will continue monitoring the weather conditions. Further alerts and advisories will be issued as and when the need arises,” he said.

Mr Zinyemba said the country last week received above average rainfall and more rains were expected. Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Davis Marapira said the rains that the country received could help crops, particularly those which are at the vegetation stage and farmers could salvage good harvests.

Deputy Minister Marapira said if farmers apply top dressing they could get a good harvest. He said the ministry was in the process of conducting a crop assessment to ascertain the state of the crops in the country.

“We received good rains recently and we are hopeful that we will have better harvests. Most crops that are on vegetation can survive and if farmers apply their top dressing fertiliser we could get a better yield. We are, however, conducting a crop assessment to see the state of the crops in the country. Also crops which are under irrigation are in good condition,” he said. Deputy Minister Marapira recently assured the nation of food security despite poor rains.

“While we acknowledge that we had below average rainfall so far this summer cropping season, people should not panic because we have more than 500 000 tonnes of maize in our strategic grain reserve. This can sustain us for close to a year.

“Last year we had good rains and people had a bumper harvest. In terms of maize most communal farmers still have food. Also our crop is not a complete write-off. There are other areas where crops are still in a better condition. We also have crops which are under irrigation, so people should not panic at all,” he said.

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