Govt warns of poor harvests as agricultural season falters

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By Xinhua

HARARE: The Zimbabwean government has assured the nation that no one will die of hunger as prospects for this year’s agricultural season diminish due to poor rains.

“Cabinet wishes to advise the nation that overall, the first-round crop and livestock survey confirmed that climate change is upon us and affecting agricultural production,” said Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa at a post-cabinet media briefing Tuesday. “The nation is being assured that every effort is being made to ensure that no Zimbabwean will die of hunger. Adequate stocks of cereals are available for all needy families.”

The country’s 2021/2022 farming season was marked by a false start to the season in most areas of the country, followed by an unevenly distributed rainfall pattern both in space and time, Mutsvangwa said.

As a result, the area planted to maize decreased by 1 percent from 1,920,541 hectares in the 2020/21 season to 1,903,669 hectares in 2021/2022. There was also a general decrease in the hectarage for crops planted with tobacco, the country’s major cash crop, declining by 11 percent, sorghum 2 percent, pearl millet 25 percent, finger millet 40 percent and cotton by 23 percent.

Mutsvangwa said going forward, the government will intensify the implementation of several measures to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure household food self-sufficiency. The measures to be implemented include accelerating climate-proofing strategies for smallholder farmers and accelerating irrigation development.

Zimbabwe last year produced 2.8 million tonnes of the staple maize, a record output in recent years, against national consumption of 1.8 million tonnes annually after a good rainfall season.