Zimbabwe's wet season helps with bumper crops

Country able to export excess food following good spells of rain and a concerted effort by the government.

    A year after a state of emergency was declared in Zimbabwe, the country is now able to export excess food.

    Last year, the Command Agriculture programme was launched in response to the shrinking agricultural output and drought.

    This provided finance, seed, fertiliser and pesticides. The goal was to make Zimbabwe self-sufficient in maize and the move was a success.

    "I would say, frankly speaking, there may be elements of food insecurity, but there is no hunger," said Bishow Parajuli, the UN resident coordinator in Zimbabwe.

    "We were facing lots of challenges when the drought came in but the proactiveness of the government and strong partnership addressed all issues of famine and hunger.

    "Of course, there's food insecurity, malnutrition issues and that is what we are working on at the moment."

    READ MORE: Zimbabwe floods killed 246, made thousands homeless

    The 2016-17 rainfall season in Zimbabwe officially ended in the first week of April and this season's rainfall was in excess.

    This contributed greatly to an abundant crop in many areas of agriculture but, as is often the case, came in flash-flood amounts.

    The country's Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that for the first time in almost two decades, Zimbabwe will produce enough maize to be able to export the grain.

    Now the problem is where to store saleable produce - for future use or export. Dry storage is surprisingly necessary as conditions even in late April have been wet, following a surprisingly humid and windy March.

    The agricultural situation did not look so rosy during the heavy rains.

    In January, the downpours were damaging crops and washing away topsoil and dirt roads. The tobacco cash crop was turning yellow through nutrient leaching and maize stems were flattened by storm gusts.

    Damage to roads and bridges from fast-flowing floodwater cut off access to markets.

    Zimbabwe last experienced such conditions in 1999.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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