High hopes as crop assessment begins

Dr John Basera

THERE are expectations the 2020/2021 summer cropping season would be one of the most productive seasons post-land reform, as the Government prepares to undertake a national crop and livestock assessment.

The exercise, set to begin this week, is expected to take “three or so weeks”.

Usually, the national crop and livestock survey begins mid to end of January every year.

Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said they were finalising preparations for the programme.

“We are working on starting the programme soon. Perhaps we will be able to start next (this) week. I will have a clearer position on Monday,” he said.

Farmers are, however, satisfied with the quality of their crops.

Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe said the current good rains had resulted in “great improvement” in crops in most parts of the country, especially in the Mashonaland, Manicaland and Midlands.

But in some areas, incessant rains have resulted in weed pressure and made fertiliser application difficult.

“We encourage farmers to continue planting crops such as sugar beans and cowpeas, especially those in warm areas. We do not encourage long-season varieties,” said Dr Makombe.

Farmers were advised to implement water harvesting techniques so that crops do not wilt during the dry periods.

Mr Godwin Mawire, the general manager of Kwayedza Farm near Glendale, said this season’s rains have brought renewed hope.

“The crop is good and the bulk of it is now at vegetative stage, with early planted crops like maize now at reproductive stage.

“This season is much better for both farmers who use irrigation and those who don’t. If we keep experiencing this kind of rain, farmers are poised for a good harvest this year,” he told The Sunday Mail during a tour of farms in Mazowe district.

In a communiqué over the weekend, the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) said the wet spell, which covered much of the country last week, will continue this week.

“The current rains associated with the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone ITCZ will persist throughout the week, with localised heavier downpours in excess of 30mm in some places.”

A report recently availed by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural and Resettlement revealed that as at December 19, over 906 000 hectares had been put under food crops out of the targeted 1,5 million hectares.

Over 138 200 hectares had been put under maize through the Pfumvudza /Intwasa programme, while sorghum and soyabean has been planted on over 30 000 hectares.

Under the Command Agriculture, 253 825 hectares had been put under maize, with over 35 800 hectares placed under soyabean.

Farmers contracted under the same programme had also taken delivery of over 86 000 litres of fuel to oil their operations.

An additional 676 784 hectares had been put under maize, while 179 000 hectares under sorghum, millet (70 604) and soyabean (12 825) through private financing.

Already, 18 804 tonnes of winter maize planted on 4 701 hectares has been harvested.

The good rains witnessed in most parts of the country are likely to complement programmes such as Pfumvudza/Intwasa Conservation Scheme, Zunde Ramambo and the National Enhanced Crop Productivity Scheme (Command Agriculture).

The Government recently indicated the country would likely achieve food self-sufficiency this year.