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Prospects of a good rainy season hang in the balance

Prospects of a good rainy season as earlier predicted by the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) now hang in the balance following extended dry spells in most parts of the Southern region since the first significant rains last month.

The MSD had forecast that Zimbabwe would receive normal to above normal rains during the first half of the 2019/2020 cropping season stretching from October to December 2019.

However, no rains were received until late mid November and after that no further significant rains have been received although some farmers have already planted their seed.

In late October Matabeleland farmers already expressed fears of a poor rainy season as rains delayed but Matabeleland North chief Agritex officer, Dumisani Nyoni, was quick to assure them that it was rather too early to anticipate another drought.

He instead appealed for patience among farmers, saying rainfall predictions were never accurate.

“What farmers have to understand is that it is difficult to predict the exact time when rains will rain,” he explained.

“Rains can come early as opposed to what has been predicted or can either be one or two weeks late.”

Now with the first half of the cropping having entered its third and last month with no significant rains having been experienced so far, it remains to be seen if the second half would in any way be better.

The MSD predicted that during the second half of the season, stretching from January to March 2020, below normal to normal rains would be received.

Fears of a failed rainy season are being expressed at a time when Bulawayo is facing critical water shortages with only 2 percent dam inflows having been recorded last month.

Sithembile Ndlovu, a farmer in Insiza told CITE their dry-planted crops were already withering with rains yet to fall.

“We had done dry planting and our crops had germinated well but they have begun withering as rains delay,” she said.

“This is bad and we are pained as farmers.”

Another farmer in Matabeleland South, Jonathan Nsingo, said unless it rained within a week, his crops would also be wiped away.

“We really do not know if the rains would come any time soon,” he bemoaned.

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