ZIMBABWE – Crops that were planted between October and November last year were the worst affected by the mid-season dry spell in Manicaland, Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union provincial manager Mr Daniel Mungazi has said.

Mr Mungazi told The Herald that crops planted between December and January had a better chance of reaching maturity, boosting farmers’ chances of achieving food security.

He, however, urged farmers to use both the October-November and December-January planting windows, arguing that since weather patterns were changing on a yearly basis, there were still chances of crops from either regime making it to maturity.

“Farmers should plant in either parts of the season so that they do not lose much or totally in the event of rains turning out to be erratic or unreliable,” he explained.

Most crops in Manicaland’s driest districts, for instance, Chipinge, Mutasa and Mutare have permanently wilted leaving farmers staring at the prospects of food shortages in the face.

A programmes manager with non-governmental organisation GOAL, Mr Tinashe Tsepete, also told some development partners attending a meeting in Mutare last week farmers were facing a two-faced challenge of drought and the fall armyworm in dry areas.

Mr Mungazi echoed similar sentiments, saying the fall armyworm was scattered in every district of Zimbabwe and cited Chaguta Farm in Chipinge as an example of one locality where crops have been seriously damaged by the pest.

“To control fall armyworm, farmers should use chemicals recommended by Agritex and mix them properly so that they do not continue to lose their crops.

They should try to detect the fall armyworm at an early stage through scouting,” he said.

Mr Mungazi also urged farmers to keep livestock just in case crops do not perform well.

Crops such as tobacco were also affected through stunted growth and false ripening of the leaves but were quick to respond to the rains, which ignited the hopes of many farmers in the province and across other parts of Zimbabwe.

Business Day