Met Dept predicts better summer cropping season

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LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) is predicting an improved
2019/2020 summer cropping season from last season’s El Nino drought, a situation which is expected to help to improve the country’s economic fortunes through better agriculture production and electricity generation.

Agriculture experts say it is the norm that after every El Nino season is followed by La Nina (which is mainly associated with excessive rains).

MSD spokesperson Tichaona Zinyemba told Business Times the upcoming season’s outlook seems much better than last season although studies have not been completed.

“We are still in the processes of studying how the weather patterns will be like in the coming season. The studies will be complete by month end, but what we have always indicated from that start is that the El Nino phenomenon is weakening,.

“We might not know the frequency and actual amounts of the rains yet but there seems to be a sign of improvement from last season,” Zinyemba said.

However, speaking during last week’s Energy Journalism Workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe Power Company officials told journalists that electricity problems will persist next year due to yet another El Nino looming.

This could mean that Kariba, whose water levels are at a precarious level, will not fully function in terms energy generation.

In response Zinyemba said predictions will only come after the completion of the weather patterns studies.

“Every day we are learning of those claims (of an El Nino) from the media but to be frank with you, it’s only the country’s MSD with the mandate  to tell the nation the forthcoming weather patterns, I don’t know where these claims came from when we haven’t yet announced the season outlook,” he said.

 Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Paul Zakariya said a good
rainy season will bring hope to farmers but inputs should be readily
available on time and affordable.

“We hope that MSD’s predictions are true as we want our farmers to
recover from a nightmarish season last year where rainfall patterns were
so erratic that very few farmers managed to have meaningful output. On
the government side we would want them to ensure there are no seed and
fertiliser shortages as we want our farmers to take full advantage of
this coming season,” Zakariya said.

During the mid-term budget review, Finance and Economic Development
Minister Mthuli Ncube set aside $2,3 billion for Command Agriculture
with banks planning to budget  over $1,8 billion for the season.

Analysts say output will improve if productive farmers get inputs on time.
Government wants agriculture to do well to steer economic turnaround
as it contributes 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, over 70
percent of the country’s employment and source of livelihood and
supply over 60 percent of the manufacturing sector’s raw materials.