VILLAGERS in drought-prone Chirumanzu district in Midlands province have let loose their cattle on crops that have wilted, as a result of the prolonged El Nino-induced dry spell affecting most parts of the country.
by Stephen Chadenga
The villagers said they planted mostly maize in December last year, but the erratic rains that pounded the area had rendered their crop a write-off.
According to farming experts, the country faces one of the worst droughts in its history, as crops in most provinces have been affected by the dry spell.
Villagers said they were now in a state of desperation, as they were not expecting any yields this farming season.
“We face serious hunger, as there is nothing to harvest from our fields since crops have succumbed to the dry spell,” a villager, Felistas Chigumbu, said.
“We had high hopes that the wilting crops would be resuscitated by the January rains, but the situation is dire, as we experienced isolated drizzles since the beginning of this year.”
Chigumbu said the only option was to let the cattle loose on the crops, as they, too, were at risk of starvation due to shortage of pastures.
Another farmer, Emmanuel Dube, said he had started stocking maize grain, as the crops completely failed.
He said he abandoned the crops to animals, as they were heavily affected by the dry spell.
“I used to safeguard my crops from marauding animals, but when I realised they had completely wilted, I decided not to waste time, but look for grain maize to buy with the little resources I have,” he said.
“If I had known the situation was going to be like this, I was not going to waste money on farming inputs and land preparation.”
The local councillor, Taruvinga Duvai, said the situation could have been worse if it was not for the Mavhaire irrigation scheme situated in the area.