Zimbabwe writes off 106 520ha of maize due to dry weather spell

 Zimbabwe writes off 106 520ha of maize due to dry weather spell
Published: 22 April 2020
The Ministry of Agriculture is pursuing crop diversification in order to spread the risk of crop failure after the prolonged dry spells experienced in the 2019/2020 season led to low area planted and poor crop establishment and write-offs on the majority of crops except for soya and small grains.
According to the National Crop and Livestock Assessment Report for 2019/2020 conducted between January and February, hectarage planted on the majority of crops declined with poor harvest anticipated. The ministry conducts three National Crop and Livestock Assessments every year; the first, the second and post-harvest assessments. The verification exercise by national teams took place from February 10 to February 23, 2020
In the period, maize hectarage decreased 5% to 1.54 million from 1.62 million in the comparable year-ago period. 42% or 652 008 ha of the maize crop was planted in November, 606 124 ha (39%) in December and 291 192 ha were planted in January. Of the planted crop, 106 520 ha of maize were written off due to the dry spell although overall crop condition is fair to poor. The worst affected crop is the early-planted November crop, which was affected by moisture stress and hence had poor establishment. Maize area planted under The Special program for import Substitution stands at 113 365 Ha. This represents 7% of the total area under maize. The communal sector still contributes the largest area under maize (58%), whilst the large scale and A2 contributed 8% of the area under maize a one percent drop from 9% in the 2018/19 season.
The agricultural season was marked by a delayed onset of rain in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country. In Chipinge, rain started in the first week of January while in Masvingo and parts of Matabeleland South the rain began 30-40 days after the normal onset of the rains. Though most parts of the country had a normal start to the season, this was a false start as it was followed by prolonged dry spells coupled with high temperatures. Some low-lying areas of the country in the Zambezi valley received flash floods, which led to the destruction of both crop and livestock. In Binga about 60ha of maize and 50ha traditional grains was written off due to floods.  Some fields were washed away by floods due to poor conservation works.
Tobacco area decreased 6% to 100 426ha from 106 558 ha. The tobacco is ready for marketing with the industry board predicting marketed crop to be lower than last year's record.  The biggest challenge faced by many tobacco farmers was the false and flush ripening of the crop due to fluctuating moisture and temperature levels.

Under livestock, 66 088 cattle succumbed to drought with Masvingo and Matabeleland South being the worst affected provinces. The national cattle herd decreased 4.7 % to 5 489 364 from 5 774 525 in 2018 due to deaths due caused by tick-borne diseases and drought. The report noted that there was a lot of cattle destocking in areas hit by Theileriosis as desperate farmers sell to middlemen who are taking advantage and buying at very low prices. The dairy herd stands at 38 000 of these, 12 000 are in milk-producing an average of 14 litres/cow/day.
Cotton area decreased by 13% to 170 622ha from 197 242ha in 2018/2019 season. The targeted area for cotton was not achieved due to the erratic rainfall pattern in the traditional cotton-growing areas. Most farmers who could not plant have kept cottonseed for next season.
Soyabean area was down 40% from 55 660ha to 33 599ha with 17 125ha of the crop being grown under contract. Out of this, a total of 1 362ha was written-off.

- finx
Tags: Maize,


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