By Joyce Mukucha
Following successive droughts over the past few years that negatively affected agricultural growth in Zimbabwe, farmers in rural areas are overwhelmed with joy because the rains have remained above normal throughout the country in the 2020 -2021 cropping season.
Spiked Online Media conducted interviews with various farmers in different provinces who expressed joy after adequate rains were received across much of the country.
They explained that they are hopeful that this season’s rains are undoubtedly pointing to bumper harvests.
A farmer in Mashonaland West Province, Gibson Swerai said 2020/2021 rainfall was a huge relief for them.
“This year’s rainfalls have provided desperately needed water to hectares of pastures and crops. It’s a relief for us the farmers who are based in rural communities. Our skepticism has now gone. We are grateful,” he said.
“We are now hopeful of the 2020/2021 farming season,” said Tavonga Mhara, a farmer based in Mashonaland East Province(Marondera).
Another farmer in Masvingo said, “The rains were not adequate for the past years and we were cropping in the driest farming season but this season, we are positive that the rains will help our crops grow faster and we will have good harvests.”
Other farmers are upbeat that a bumper crop is on the horizon and hopes are high that the sector will deliver strong growth to the economy despite Covid-19 setbacks.
Many of the rural farmers in Zimbabwe managed to cultivate maize, soybean, millet, groundnut, and wheat among other crops for both survival and income.
Agricultural experts and extension officers who spoke to this publication said although the rains were adequate, there was still a need for farmers to use alternative crops to substitute the country’s main crops, as climate change continues to hit the continent.
Not only the rural farmers are expecting good harvests. The Government of Zimbabwe has also projected a bumper harvest.
Addressing a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, the Minister of Information and Publicity Monica Mutsvangwa said the country anticipated to harvest two million metric tonnes of cereals.
The government, she said, was tirelessly working to come up with mechanisms and measures aimed at ensuring that there would be enough grain storage facilities ahead of the harvesting season.
“Although the ministry is awaiting the results of the first round of the crop and livestock assessment later in March 2021, for planning purposes, an estimated national production of 2,5 million to 2,8 million metric tonnes of maize, and 360 000 metric tonnes of traditional grains has been based on the promising bumper harvest in 2021,” Mutsvangwa said.
“On the basis of the afore-stated estimates, deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) are expected to be 2 million metric tonnes of cereals (that is 1,8 million metric tonnes of maize) and 200 000 metric tonnes of traditional grains,” she said.
In that regard, she added, the directorate of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation has been re-established with a dedicated department of post-harvest technology and storage to safeguard harvests.