Harare - Farmers in
Zimbabwe, emerging from the region’s worst drought in at least two decades, are
being threatened with a second year of losses as heavy rains damage corn and
review is under way to assess the damage from the unseasonably heavy rain and
farmers will probably need extra fertilizer to help harvests survive, Deputy
Agriculture Minister David Marapira said in an interview on Monday.
output in the southern African nation was crippled by last year’s drought and
as many as four million Zimbabweans remain on food aid, according to the
government. The heavy rains are expected to continue for at least another week,
Zimbabwe’s meteorological department said on state radio.
industry is seeing damage across all growing areas and carrying out its own
crop assessment, said Andrew Matibiri, chief executive officer of the Tobacco
Industry and Marketing Board.
Zimbabwe’s second-largest export earner after gold in 2015, the latest year for
which data is available, according to the state’s trading body, ZimTrade. The
crop accounted for 21.1% of exports and the country’s earnings from
tobacco sales rose 7% to $914m in the 12 months through December 8.
“There is a
lot of false ripening on the crop because of the incessant rains and that puts
severe pressure on the farmer to quickly harvest,” he said. Humid conditions
are also prolonging tobacco-curing time. False ripening is caused by the
leaching of soil nutrients due to heavy rain. The leaf yellows, which looks
like ripening, but is actually a nutrient deficiency.
and related flood danger are likely to worsen, between now and the middle of
February, the Zimbabwe Meteorological Department said in an emailed statement.
authorities are still assessing the extent of the damage to infrastructure,
repairs to roads and bridges from flooding could cost millions of
dollars, Sibusisiwe Ndlovu, the acting director of the government’s Civil
Protection Unit, said in an interview. The CPU is urging people in the worst
affected areas to move to higher ground, she said.
Civil Protection Unit, a government body, co-ordinates rescue efforts and
preparedness in the event of natural disasters like flooding, working with
local and national authorities to minimize harm.
country’s farms last experienced such high levels of rain during a growing
season in 1999, said Wonder Chabikwa, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial
situation is “hopeless,” Stenford Chidakwa, a farmer in the Centenary
district, about 161km north of the capital, Harare, said
by phone. “My tobacco has turned yellow and my corn has been knocked over
by heavy rain and wind.”
produced 1.3 million tons of corn last year, short of its 2.2 million ton
annual requirements, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: