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Crying for rain

Sinqobile Tessa
CROWNED KING: Lesole with his Crown award

An anxious wait as El Nino takes its toll

The current heat wave is getting everyone talking.

Of course, we have had high temperatures in previous years but this time around, the record breaking heat is just unbearable. The humidity too is a killer; I understand you’re experiencing similar that side of the border?

‘The Gods must really be angry’, as someone said.

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And while we get ‘roasted’ and try to survive these sweltering summer days, the thought of facing a drought in the coming year is also quite scary considering we are already finding the going very tough.

As a farmer, I look up at the sky every day, hoping to see dark clouds gathering and rains eventually falling. But alas, it’s always clear blue skies and the blazing sun, not even a wispy white cloud to provide relief from the rays.

The weather forecast was long predicted, but I guess, as a people we are wired to never lose hope.

Southern Africa is experiencing El Nino which is forecast to end mid next year and its major effect is that there will be very little rains in the affected countries.

In our area, it rained only once in October and then not a single drop fell in November. God knows how – or if – our livestock will survive as water bodies have dried up.

In an effort to mitigate these El Nino effects, our government is encouraging farmers to plant drought resistant crops and to practice a way of farming where land is manually tilled. Not really a new concept, but this time it is being vigorously pushed because of the below normal rainfall that is expected in the country.

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Under this concept, called pfumbudza/intwasa, farmers dig up shallow pits using hoes and use mulch around the pits to minimize weeds. The idea is to retain as much rain water as possible so the crops can grow and mature even with very little water.

The goal is to ensure that small holder farmers, who make up 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s farming community, have sufficient food.

This programme is labour intensive but I personally think it’s worth practicing under this extremely unfavorable climate.

It is for this reason that for the first time since I became a full-time farmer in 2017, I attended the programmes launch in our area last Friday.

I detest government gatherings because they are always turned into mini rallies, but in this particular one, I have no regrets spending the day there despite the heat.

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It was all about farming; and better still, the presidential inputs which had been promised to the farmers arrived on time and everyone got their share.

These included 50kg fertilizer, 5kg seeds of sorghum, groundnuts seed and cow peas respectively among other things. I must say I was happy with the inputs.

I am now eagerly waiting for the rains so we can plant our drought resistant, sorghum, cow peas and of course maize which I cannot resist planting even though we have been advised otherwise…and now we wait…

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