Lovemore Zigara, Midlands Correspondent
THE hectarage under crops has fallen by 60 percent in the Midlands and over 80 percent of the crops which were planted in the province are a write off, an agricultural expert has revealed.
The late disbursement and high cost of inputs, high tillage costs and the onset of the rains have been blamed for the low hectarage planted this summer cropping season.
Figures availed by the province show that 179,490 hectares had been planted this season as at January 2 compared to 277,306 hectares planted in the previous season.
Maize hectarage fell from 186,653 hectares to 111,486 hectares this cropping season.
Provincial Agritex officer Peter Chamisa said more than 80 percent of crops were suffering from moisture stress and required replanting before predicting crop failure in the province’s eight districts.
“We had an erratic start to the rainy season which affected germination and there was a need for replanting.
“The net result was reduced hecterage of all crops by 60 percent.
“We’ve been experiencing an extended dry spell which shows that drought is looming and we’re hoping that the rains which are being experienced in some parts of the province will go a long way in mitigating the effects of the drought and maybe some districts may harvest something,” he said.
Chamisa said the government has since moved in to rehabilitate irrigation schemes in the province in order to grow some food crops to mitigate the effects of the impending drought.
Midlands has 50,000 hectares under irrigation but only 40 percent of the irrigation schemes are being fully utilised as some of the schemes have had their irrigation machinery vandalised or do not have irrigation equipment.