|Drought scare in Matabeleland South|
|Wednesday, 16 January 2013 17:42|
MATABELELAND South farmers are facing an imminent drought as most of them have drastically reduced the hectarage under crops due to the late rains.
Most of the seven administrative districts in the province require between 400 and 500mm of rain for a successful farming season but indications are that they will receive far less this season.
The districts are Beitbridge, Bulilima, Gwanda, Insiza, Matobo, Mangwe and Umzingwane.
In an interview yesterday, the Provincial Agronomist Mr Innocent Nyathi said the worst affected districts were Beitbridge, Gwanda South, Matobo and Mangwe, where crops which were planted at the onset of the first rains, had wilted due to the prolonged dry spell.
“We are afraid another drought is upon us as the weather forecast indicates that we should expect normal to below normal rains meaning that it is another disaster.
“Most of our districts require between 400 and 500mm of rainfall for a successful farming season. It is worrying that some districts like Beitbridge, Gwanda, Matobo and Mangwe, have received less than half of the normal requirement. These have received less than 200m since the onset of the rain season in October last year,” he said.
Mr Nyathi said they were also worried with the uneven distribution of the rainfall in the province, which he attributed to climate change.
He added that they were expecting better harvests in Bulilima, Insiza North and Umzingwane, which had received more than 300mm of rain and the crops were still in good condition.
He said the erratic rains had forced farmers to reduce the hectarage under maize from a target of 135 000 hectares to just 18 500.
“We received very little rains and most crops, which were planted at the onset of the rains, wilted. The water bodies are also drying up and this is affecting livestock.
Mr Nyathi said hectarage under sorghum was reduced from a target of 30 000 hectares to just 8 300 and 7 100 hectares was under millet out of a target of 35 000.
Meanwhile, Mr Nyathi said an outbreak of armyworm had been reported in Bulilima, Gwanda, Matobo, Mangwe and Insiza and spraying had already started in affected areas.
“We have sprayed 570 hectares in these four districts and we will continue monitoring the situation,” he said.
Mr Nyathi said the province had received adequate chemicals from the Plant Protection Unit to deal with the armyworm.