A food crisis is looming in Matabeleland following poor rainfall, which has seen crops suffering from moisture stress.
This season, Matabeleland North, which usually performs better than Matabeleland South, has also been affected severely by lack of rainfall.
Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu yesterday said although statistics were not yet available, most parts of the province had been affected by poor rains.
“There will be food shortages in some places,” she said.
“It has been raining lately, but I am not sure if those who planted early will be able to find maize seed for replanting because their initial crop was damaged by delays in rains.
“There will be need for food aid because the rains have come late.
“They are not doing any good to the crops that survived.
“The rains are not giving the crop a chance to grow so many are now showing signs of nitrogen stress as the water is taking away all the nutrients from the soil.”
Mathuthu, however, said it was not possible to say exactly how much food aid was needed in the province as, “we are yet to conduct an assessment of the damage on the fields.
“That is usually done after harvesting,” she said.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuku were fruitless as she indicated she was attending a meeting.
But agricultural experts in the province who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity said the worst affected areas were Beitbridge followed by Gwanda and Matobo districts.
“Things are really bad in Matabeleland South. It is worse than last year and I think this year will be similar to the drought experienced in the country in 1992,” said the expert.
“Only parts of Plumtree and Insiza are better, but the situation is hopeless in the rest of the province. Food aid is needed urgently, otherwise people will starve.”
Beitbridge town secretary Sipho Singo told Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai during a tour of the region last December, the situation deserved urgent government intervention.
He said the district was in dire need of food, as most households were going without food and most cattle were dying due to lack of water.