Anticipated La Niña Weather Patterns Bring Hope for Agriculture Sector

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Harare, May 12, 2024 — As the 2024/2025 summer cropping season approaches, forecasts indicate the likelihood of normal to above-normal rainfall, attributed to the anticipated La Niña weather phenomenon expected to develop as early as next month.

This prediction offers a glimmer of hope for Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, which has grappled with recent drought conditions.

The La Niña weather pattern, inversely related to El Niño, typically brings warmer-than-usual winters and increased rainfall during summer. The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) forecasts the onset of La Niña between June and September, potentially heralding relief after the government declared a State of Disaster due to recent droughts.

A recent mid-term weather forecast released by the MSD suggests a transition from El Niño to La Niña, with historical data indicating a pattern of strong El Niño events followed by consecutive seasons of La Niña. The projected impact on weather patterns during spring and summer underscores the importance of understanding and preparing for potential changes in precipitation and temperature.

La Niña-induced weather is characterized by high rainfall and warm winters, in contrast to El Niño’s low rainfall and cold temperatures. The likelihood of above-average rainfall in Southern Africa raises concerns about potential flooding and increased cyclone activity in the Mozambique Channel.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Mr. James Ngoma, head of forecast at MSD, confirmed the country’s anticipated La Niña conditions for the winter period, with further modeling underway to enhance long-term predictions.

Meanwhile, the United States National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center also anticipates the transition to La Niña by the second half of the year, with a 49 to 69 percent chance of development during the June to September period. This forecast aligns with the dynamics of El Niño-Southern Oscillation and offers additional confidence in the anticipated weather pattern shift.

The prospect of above-average rainfall has been welcomed by agricultural stakeholders, with Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri highlighting its potential for increased production and productivity. However, he cautioned about the accompanying risks, particularly for low-lying areas susceptible to flooding.

Agricultural authorities, including the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) and the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, echoed sentiments of optimism, emphasizing the need for timely preparations to maximize the benefits of favorable weather conditions. Despite the optimism, stakeholders remain vigilant, recognizing the unpredictability of weather patterns and the importance of adaptive strategies to mitigate risks and optimize agricultural outcomes.