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Mangwe villagers worried by dry spell

Villagers in Mangwe are increasingly becoming worried by the ongoing dry spell experienced across the country, triggering fears of a failed cropping season.

A visit by CITE to the district in Matabeleland South last week revealed that it is not well in the fields with crops beginning to wilt.

While Mangwe, just like most parts of the province got good rains late November, which enabled villagers to plant some of their crops, no further significant rains have been received to date.

This is, however, happening at a time when the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) had predicted normal to above normal rains during the first half of the 2019/2020 cropping season, stretching from October to December 2019.

Villagers who spoke to CITE said should it not rain this week, disaster was inevitable, adding they were praying for rains.

“The rains, though having come a bit late, started very well with the local Msololo Dam filling up, marking the beginning of the cropping season for us,” said Siphiwe Moyo under Chief Hobodo.

“A number of people managed to plant their crops although some are yet to complete that exercise. What is worrying us now is that rains are nowhere to be seen, while some of the seed is yet to germinate.”

Moyo said some farmers would be forced to replant in the event rains further delay, something that dashes away hopes of a bumper harvest.

Another villager, Kholwani Ncube, bemoaned excessive high temperatures at a time when they were expecting abundant rain showers.

“This heat is just too much especially considering that we usually get high rainfall during the Christmas holidays,” said Ncube.

“Clouds sometimes gather up in the sky giving us some hope that it could rain but later dissipate. With the way things are in Zimbabwe, I wonder what it would be if we do not receive good rains this season.”

According to MSD normal to below normal rains are expected in the last half of the cropping season – January to March 2020, meaning there is a likelihood of drought.

Meanwhile, the government is reportedly weighing the option of introducing early cloud-seeding to aid rainfall should the current dry weather patterns persist.

Most parts of the country are experiencing a dry spell that has seen some farmers panic over the state of crops, mostly maize, which has started to show signs of moisture stress.

According to MSD, most parts of the country are this week expected to be mostly sunny and hot with brief cloudy periods that may be coupled with thunderstorms in some places

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