Clinton Moyo, Business Reporter
MOST summer crop that had almost wilted in January due to a prolonged dry spell that the country experienced in December and January are now recovering following widespread rains received since the beginning of this month.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said most farmers have witnessed crop recovery following the rains. He said tobacco has witnessed the biggest recovery. Tobacco is the country’s second biggest export earner raking in than $800 million annually.
“These few days that we have received rains, we have seen a serious recovery of all crops especially tobacco. The recovery of tobacco has been unbelievable. This is, however, due to the fact that most of the crops had not reached the permanent wilting point so we are still expecting good yields this year,” said Mr Chabikwa.
Most farmers had started to press the panic button as most of their crops were now beginning to show signs of moisture stress due to the dry spell.
However, the Government has assured the country that it had more than 500 000 tonnes of maize in its strategic grain reserves, enough to sustain the country up to next year. Mr Chabikwa said the rains that the country was receiving was also good for the coming winter cropping.
“There is also great hope for the winter crop because the dam levels have risen as well as the grazing lands look well. Everything is now on track from livestock to crops,” he said.
He, however, expressed concern over shortage of irrigation equipment for winter wheat.
“The challenge that we might face for winter crops is winter wheat because there are inadequate funds to purchase irrigation equipment suitable for the crop. You will realise that more than 200 000 hectares of land should be placed under winter wheat but as a country we are planting 50 percent of that,” said Mr Chabikwa.
Zimbabwe recorded a bumper harvest last farming season due to good rains and improved funding through Command Agriculture and Presidential Input Scheme. This year, the country is entering into the second phase of Command Agriculture and it is hoped yields could improve after the Government increased the quantum of inputs availed to farmers under the scheme. -@clintonmoyo2