14 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Heavy Rains Threaten Household Food Security

Heavy rains received this month have impacted negatively on the food security of households after destroying crops in most parts of the country. Floods have been experienced in low-lying areas like Chivi, Masvingo and Tsholotsho, but the worst hit is the Tokwe-Mukosi area where the water in the dam has risen to dangerous levels.

The Zimbabwe Farmer's Union second vice president Mr Abdul Nyathi said most crops such as maize, potatoes and cow peas have been swept away.

"The continued rains have affected smallholder farmers in areas such as Murehwa, Muzarabani and Dande whose fertiliser and manure have been washed downstream.

"There could be hope for most farmers if they get Government assistance such as loans to acquire fertiliser to apply to their crops.

"Fertiliser is scarce and expensive in the country and is not affordable to small-scale farmers," he said.

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo said the flash floods have caused substantial damage to their crops.

"Most of the maize has been destroyed because land is now water logged and the roots have died.

"We were optimistic about having a bumper harvest this season but the rains have done a lot of damage.

"If the rains continue we are likely to import maize from other countries and that is a bad sign for the country since the Government does not have enough revenue," she said.

The Meteorological Services Department forecast has warned that some parts of the country are in danger of experiencing flash flooding as the rains that have been pounding most parts of the country are set to continue.

Acting deputy director operations at the department Mr Patrick Mukunguta said the ground is already waterlogged, any amount of rainfall has the potential to cause flash flooding, especially in areas with poorly-drained soils and in flood-prone areas.

Plant Protection and Research Institute deputy director Mr Godfrey Chikwenhere said crops were more vulnerable to armyworms as chemicals have been washed away by rains.

"Fresh outbreaks are emanating from secondary generation army worm are likely to hit most parts of the country up to May 2014 if the current weather persists," he said.

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