Only 40 000 hectares of fields planted
The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security is bracing itself for a very low cereal production for the 2017/18 ploughing season.
The ministry is of the view that due to late rainfalls which arrived well after the set ploughing period of January, the impact on production is obvious.
Responding to a questionnaire from The Voice, Chief Public Relations Officer, Boikhutso Rabasha said when rains arrive late crop productivity is guaranteed to be low.
“A smaller area will be put under production resulting in low yields of poor quality produce,” she said.
The ministry had to extend ploughing period in the south region, from January 31st to February 07th and to February,15th in the northern region.
Rabasha said farmers made use of the extension and continued with arable activities but now with diligence so as to safeguard experiencing detrimental effects of the subsequent season.
She said the winter season which follows immediately after the ploughing season has shorter day time,which leads to poor quality crop yields.
“As for planting, seasonality becomes a critical factor to be observed as it will be counter productive to grow crops in a season in which they wouldn’t be successful,” she said.
The ministry’s Chief spokesperson further added that compared to last year, the current production year is a bad one as to date 40 000 hectares have been recorded as planted while in the past cropping season of 2016/17 a total of 167,561.86 hectares was planted by 32,650 farmers’ same period.
Rabasha said The cereal production for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 cropping seasons was 54,597 and 128,075tonnes respectively.
“This represents an increase of 42.6%. 128,075 tonnes accounted for 49% of the national cereal requirement (260,000 tonnes),” she said.
“Looking at the hectares planted and the late rains received during the season yields forecast are very low hence low crop production this season,” said Rabasha.