MSD predicts thunderstorms as rain delays worry farmers

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has predicted thunderstorms in the Southern parts of the country, beginning tomorrow.

The prediction comes at a time when Matabeleland farmers have expressed concern over the delays in the start of the 2019/2020 cropping season.

The delays are worrying farmers in the region who now fear for the possibility of another drought should the skies remain clear.

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) had predicted normal to above normal rainfall during the first half of the cropping season stretching from October 2019 to December 2020.

October is almost over with no significant rains having been received to date, something which has become a cause for concern for farmers.

 “We are expecting thunderstorms in the Southern parts of the country especially in areas such as Masvingo, Matabeleland South as there is a lot of moisture in these areas,” said MSD director, Tichaona Zinyemba.

“We are expecting light thunderstorm in these areas from tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday afternoon, but also let me hasten to say thunderstorm is not rainfall.”

Zinyemba added, the thunderstorms, with strong winds would be triggered by the heat wave currently being experienced.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) executive member, Irene Maphenduka, told CITE farmers were becoming uneasy over the delayed rains.

“We had hoped the farming season would start early and as farmers who rely on rainfall for agriculture, we are worried as to when we are going to start planting,” said Maphenduka.

“For us farmers, who depend on rainfall, it’s a nonstarter; even those who want to venture into command agriculture it becomes difficult. The government has to intervene in the agriculture sector especially when looking at how climate change is affecting the country.”

She said the current heatwave coming at a time when farmers were expecting the first rains, was even dashing all their hope of an early start to the agricultural season.

 “The environment that farmers operate in is unpredictable and the government has to do something,” she said.

However, former Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president, Donald Khumalo, said it was rather too early for farmers to worry.

“Let us not lose hope yet,” said Khumalo.

“Maybe we can get worried towards mid-November there about.”

Matabeleland North Chief Agritex officer, Dumisani Nyoni, who also appealed for patience among farmers, said rainfall predictions are never accurate.

“What farmers have to understand is that it is difficult to predict the exact time when rains will rain,” he explained.

“Rains can come early as opposed to what has been predicted or can either be one or two weeks late.”

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