Politics & General News

Chiefs Implore Govt To Assist As Drought Sets In

A poor harvest looms in rural Matabeleland where crops are wilting owing to a prolonged dry spell, with traditional leaders now urging the government to activate food assistance schemes. While the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has predicted rains in the next few days, there are fears that the rainfall will do little to save the planted crops and prevent drought-induced hunger.Last week, the MSD announced it had commenced cloud-seeding to precipitate rainfall in a bid to salvage late-planted crops ruined by moisture stress. Most areas in rural Matabeleland last received meaningful rains in January.According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) the majority of households in rural areas were already food insecure after depleting their self-produced food stocks from last year’s harvest.This spells doom for the majority at a time when the prices of basic goods and commodities have been on a steady rise as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value.Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (Zcfu) president Shadreck Makombe said the region faces a poor harvest.“We might have a few spots of rain and some crops may survive but, generally, we face a poor harvest,” Makombe said.Chief Nyangazonke of Maphisa in Kezi, Matobo district, said erratic rainfall and prolonged dry spells have contributed to large-scale crop failure.“We have invested so much in the fields and appreciate the support by the government in terms of seeds and other inputs. We are caught in a painful situation of losing all; in fact, we have lost everything. All we can do now is to keep what we have in our fields for livestock. Drought is upon us,” Nyangazonke said.The dry spells, combined with climate change, have disrupted rainfall patterns and shortened by almost half the rainy season, which normally starts in October and ends in April.

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