Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
AGRICULTURAL experts are in the process of conducting a national crop assessment exercise to analyse the food security situation in the country following a prolonged dry spell that has resulted in some crops wilting.
The Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Davis Marapira, yesterday said experts from his ministry started conducting the assessment exercise on Monday last week.
He said the results of the exercise would be ready by the first week of March, adding that there was hope for a better harvest following the recent rains.
“We started conducting the crop assessment exercise last week and this is a programme that will take about a month. We therefore expect results of the exercise to be out by the first week of March.
“It’s unfortunate that when the rains started recently some of our crops were already at permanent wilting stage, with no possibility of resuscitation due to the dry spell that hit the country,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.
He said the general outlook, however, is that most of the late crops have recovered with hope that they will do well.
“The dry spell affected mostly the first crops. The late crops have been showing significant signs of improvement since it started raining. We’re hoping that the crops will receive adequate rains,” said the Deputy Minister.
He said his ministry was also closely monitoring the fall army worm and advised farmers to be on the lookout for outbreaks.
“I’m happy that this season is better than last season in terms of the prevalence of the fall army worm. However, I would like to encourage farmers to continuously monitor their crops and immediately report any outbreaks.
“As a ministry we’re doing our best to assist farmers to protect their crops, achieve good results and help the country improve its food security,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.
Last month, the Deputy Minister said about 30 percent of the country’s crops were a write off due to the prolonged dry spell that hit the country.
He, however, said the country had 500 000 tonnes of maize in its strategic grain reserves, which was enough to sustain the country up to September this year.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has also assured the nation that there is enough food even if some farmers fail to harvest this year.
In its weather report yesterday, the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) said heavy rains had been received in most parts of the country, with heavier rains expected to be concentrated more in Matabeleland North, Midlands, Harare, Manicaland provinces and all Mashonaland provinces.
The department also indicated that there was heightened risk of flash flooding in some of these areas given the amount of rain received so far.