The mid-season dry spell and an early cessation of the wet season have compounded the food insecurity risk in Chiredzi district. Abnormal dryness and uncharacteristic high temperatures have resulted in crop failure in many farming communities which rely on natural rainfall in Chiredzi, and the country at large.
In Chiredzi North, only a few farmers who planted early were not affected much. However, the late planted crop has been largely impacted by the midseason dry spell and an early wet season cessation, according to an Operation Update Report released recently by the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies.
“The late onset of season, mid-season dry spells and the early cessation will have a negative impact on the maturity of the bulk of the late planted crops further compounding the food insecurity risk in Chiredzi,” reads part of the report.
A FEWSNET issue report cited by the IFRC indicated that Chiredzi district is currently in IPC 3 category – a description of the levels of severity of acute food insecurity. The district is likely to slide into IPC 4 (emergency category) from June signaling the urgent need for food aid.
Meanwhile, the lowveld which is naturally hot and dry is often affected by drought, but is also poised to become the country’s agricultural hub due to accelerated adoption of irrigation programmes, some of which stimulated by the completion of Tugwi-Mukosi dam.
A 3000-hectare greenbelt at Buffalo Range is one of the latest ongoing projects. A Chinese firm China Nang Chang Engineering and a local firm Fossil are already on the ground for land clearance.
There is also a need to revitalise moribund and underutilised irrigation schemes in the lowveld to ensure food security. Irrigation projects are among the most effective resilience mechanism in the face of climate change induced food shortages.