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Zimbabwe to conduct cloud seeding should need arise

by Staff reporter
14 Sep 2021 at 05:01hrs | Views
The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has resources required to conduct cloud seeding during the 2021/22 rainfall season, should need arise.  This comes as the MSD said there were still possibilities of prolonged dry spells occurring during the 2021/22 rainfall season.  This came out yesterday during a virtual media workshop for the 2021/22 Seasonal forecast dissemination. The country is expected to receive normal to above normal rainfall countrywide from October 2021 to March 2022.

Experts said the forecast of normal to above rains was on cumulative volume, and not distribution of the rain.  Stakeholders noted that the forecast of normal to above normal rainfall was usually associated with expectations of a good farming season and bumper harvest.  

MSD agro meteorologist, Mr Benjamin Kwenda, said it was possible to have high rainfall and prolonged dry spells during the same season  "High rainfall does not necessarily mean good agricultural season. It does not translate to a bumper harvest.

"A bumper harvest is not only about rain,s but how the rains are spread," said. MSD senior forecaster, Mr James Ngoma, said the department can carry out cloud seeding when there are suitable clouds.  

"There is a budget set aside by Government for cloud seeding. We also have two aeroplanes; one stationed at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo and Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare for use when there is need for cloud seeding. We are well catered for in terms of cloud seeding as the planes and all equipment required are in place," he said.  

Meanwhile, agricultural experts have advised farmers to diversify and grow different crop varieties to spread the risk during the 2021/22 summer cropping season.  

Farmers have also been urged to intensify land preparations so they plant with the first effective rains.  

Agriculture expert, Mr Ivan Craig said farmers in high yielding areas should not only go for long season varieties, but should also take on board drought tolerant crops and medium season varieties to spread the risk and increase chances of getting high yields.  He urged farmers to prepare for all eventualities to spread the risk.

"Let us plan for normal to above normal rainfall and below normal season, this leaves us in an opposition where we spread the risk.  

"We should work hand in hand with Agritex for guidance on the best crops to grow in specific agro ecological regions under good season and under bad season," he said.  

Mitigation measures such as correcting the soil ph(alkalinity or acidity) have also been encouraged.  

"We should correct our soil pH for crops to develop deep roots which help in extracting moisture during dry conditions.  

"For maize, farmers can prepare for medium maturity crops which are drought tolerant. If in high potential areas, farmers can also select early maturing varieties. In medium rainfall areas, drop off medium season varieties and go to early and ultra-varieties while those in marginal areas should grow early and ultra-early maize varieties and traditional grains," said Mr Craig.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said farmers should now intensify land preparations for early planting.

Source - the herald
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