The government has put in place drought mitigation measures which will see all farmers growing small grains under command agriculture so as deal with the anticipated El Nino weather conditions which may affect crop production during the 2018/2019 agriculture season.

The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri said in view of the predicted El Nino phenomenon forecasted by weather experts, the government has instituted a deliberate national programme which calls for all A2 and A1 farmers to grow small grains to mitigate against the impact of the anticipated drought.

“Our meteorological sensors are giving a warning of a possible El Nino which suggests that the nation may not be able to produce adequate grain in the 2018/19 summer season. As part of a grand strategy A2 farmers shall be required to grow at least 10 hectares of sorghum or millet, while small farmers are expected to grow at least 2 hectares of either sorghum or millet varieties. Communal farmers must grow at least half a hectare of these small grains,” said Minister Shiri.

To minimise losses owing to anticipated drought, the Minister advised farmers to stagger planting from the onset of the rains up to mid-December in line with Meteorological Department routine weather updates, while irrigation repairs will be the new government’s top priority.

“There is need for the nation to unleash a blitz on repairs and installation of irrigation infrastructure wherever water is available. It is however advisable for farmers to stagger planting to minimise losses. We need to plant a third of our crops at the onset of the rains, another third in mid-December and the rest soon after Christmas. Such an approach has been seen to work in the past,” Minister Shiri noted.”

According to the weather experts, the country will experience normal to below normal rainfall this summer season.