Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has projected relatively low rainfall activity and a possible dry spell in southern parts of the country this week.
In an advisory, the department said movements of moderate tropical storm Cheneso in the Mozambique channel could divert moisture away from Zimbabwe and result in reduced rainfall activity in southern districts from Wednesday (January 25) into the weekend.
“If it moves according to the currently projected trajectory, it should start diverting moisture away from Zimbabwe. This will result in reduced rainfall activity in the southern districts of the country from Wednesday 25 into the weekend,” the MSD said.
The department advised farmers to do weed management, apply fertilizers and pesticides among other activities as the country entered the second phase of the 2022 – 2023 farming period.
Tropical storm Cheneso made landfall across north-eastern Madagascar on January 19, with maximum sustained winds of 65mph.
The storm has since weakened to become a non-tropical depression and had moved to west of central Madagascar early on January 23.
Cheneso brought strong winds to coastal regions, while heavy rain brought significant flooding to northern parts of Madagascar.
Regional weather experts issued a 30-60 percent chance of Cheneso regaining tropical characteristics during this period – dependent upon the system moving sufficiently far offshore across the Mozambique Channel.
Zimbabwe continues to receive normal-to-above-normal rainfall in all the 10 provinces as forecast by the Meteorological Services Department and the Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) last year.
The 2022-2023 forecast by regional climate experts showed that there was greater potential for normal to above normal rainfall for the bulk of the region, ushering in an opportunity for good agricultural performance.
However, the good rain spell has brought about floods which have damaged property, crops and infrastructure in various parts of the country.
Farmers are also grappling with the fertiliser leaching due to incessant rains.
Good rainfall inflows have seen the national dam water levels rising to 81,2 percent up from 80,9 percent as at December 21, according to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
Farmers have so far planted 465 707 hectares of maize more than double the 215 481ha planted last season.
Zimbabwe is expecting an exceptional harvest in 2023 and the government was forecasting that a total of three million tons of maize would be produced in the 2022 – 2023 farming season.
In the 2021-22 cropping season, Zimbabwe produced about 1,6 million tonnes of maize – the country’s main staple crop, slightly below the five ‑ year average and 45 percent down from the bumper harvest in 2021.