The Herald (Harare)

31 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Erratic Rains Leaves Beitbridge Folk Worried

Beitbridge Bureau — Beitbridge is in imminent danger of food shortage as the district has received just more than half of the required minimum rainfall this year, an official has said. District agronomist Mr Masauso Mawocha said the district had received 208mm of rainfall against a normal expectation of between 350 and 450mm. The district last had rains on December 10 where 12,2mm were received. He said their assessment had established that most crops planted at the onset of the first rains had wilted and were a complete write-off.

"We are afraid another drought is upon us. The weather forecast indicates that we should expect normal to below normal rains, but we haven't received any meaningful rains so far.

"A total of between 300 and 450mm will be enough for a successful farming season," he said. He said they had started educating the communal farmers on the effects of climate change.

"Farmers should stagger their planting pattern and also prioritise small grains which are drought tolerant.

"Cash crops such as maize can only do well under irrigation, but most of the farmers are facing challenges in that area," he said.

Mr Mawocha said they were still assessing the situation on how they could assist the communal farmers.

In October this year the Food and Agriculture Organisation embarked on a drought mitigation operation for livestock that would result in 3 000 tonnes of stock feeds being sold to communal farmers in Beitbridge district.

Under the same project a 50kg bag would be sold for US$6 and the proceeds would be used to rehabilitate and start more livestock production projects in the area.

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