Low maize hec­tarage in Mata­bele­land

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Du­misani Nsingo Se­nior Farm­ing Re­porter

THE to­tal area cropped un­der maize in Mata­bele­land re­gion will this sea­son sig­nif­i­cantly de­crease ow­ing to the er­ratic rain­fall re­ceived coun­try­wide, an of­fi­cial said.

Mata­bele­land North Depart­ment of Crop and Live­stock Pro­duc­tion pro­vin­cial agron­o­mist Mr Dav­i­son Masendeke said there was a marked de­crease in the area planted un­der maize this sea­son com­pared to the 2017/ 18 sea­son.

“Prospects of get­ting suf­fi­cient rains are be­com­ing leaner and leaner by the day. As a province we have planted very lit­tle com­pared to last year. We have planted far much less than what we should have planted by this time of the year. The rea­son be­ing that the rain­fall started late, al­though last sea­son it also started late it was ear­lier than this sea­son,” he said.

Due to the pre­vail­ing er­ratic rain­fall be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced in the coun­try, the province’s an­tic­i­pated maize yield is also ex­pected to dras­ti­cally drop com­pared to last sea­son’s har­vest.

“Most dis­tricts re­ceived rain­fall in mid-De­cem­ber but it wasn’t enough as it was fol­lowed by a long dry spell. In essence the rain­fall has been very er­ratic in terms of time and space and it has been poor in terms of dis­tri­bu­tion whereby you would find that one area will be hav­ing rain and an­other one close by will be dry,” said Mr Masendeke.

He also lamented the poor con­di­tions of live­stock due to in­suf­fi­cient graz­ing ar­eas and short­age of re­li­able wa­ter sources fur­ther adding that farm­ers should re­frain from us­ing do­mes­tic an­i­mals as draught power as most of them are in a poor state.

“Those that rely on an­i­mals for draught power should re­frain from do­ing so as most of them are in bad shape due to lack of pas­tures and ad­e­quate wa­ter for con­sump­tion. In­stead farm­ers should prac­tice dry plant­ing,” said Mr Masendeke.

He en­cour­aged farm­ers to em­brace the crop­ping of small grains due to their drought tol­er­ant na­ture com­pared to maize.

“We are also en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to move away from crop­ping maize as it is sus­cep­ti­ble to pro­longed dry spells but in­stead grow small grains. They should put down im­proved and early ma­tur­ing small grain va­ri­eties es­pe­cially those of sorghum and pearl mil­let,” said Mr Masendeke.

Mata­bele­land South Depart­ment of Crop and Live­stock Depart­ment pro­vin­cial of­fi­cer Mrs Si­man­galiphi Ng­wabi re­it­er­ated Mr Masendeke’s sen­ti­ments at­tribut­ing the de­crease in the area planted un­der maize to low pre­cip­i­ta­tion but fur­ther hinted that the in­crease in the price of in­puts such as seed and fer­tilis­ers also played a part.

“The area planted un­der maize this sea­son has dras­ti­cally de­creased largely due to the low rain­fall we have re­ceived and the pre­vail­ing eco­nomic hard­ships be­ing faced by the gen­er­al­ity of Zim­babwe, which has seen most farm­ers fail­ing to buy seed and fer­tilis­ers be­cause their prices are beyond the reach of many. We can only en­cour­age farm­ers to con­sider crop­ping small grains be­cause if these ger­mi­nate and the rains aren’t that good they can with­stand the dry spell, with farm­ers stand­ing a chance of a rea­son­able har­vest,” said Mrs Ng­wabi.

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