News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Zimbabwe faces drought in 2018/19 farming season

Dry crops affected by drought

(Xinhua/NAN) Zimbabwe is likely to experience an El Nino phase, which will result in erratic rainfall during the 2018/19 farming season, a government official said on Wednesday.

This will be the second drought for the country in three years, following an El Nino-induced drought in 2016 that left a quarter of the rural population in need of food aid.

That period was Zimbabwe’s worst in 30 years.

“The 2018/19 rainfall season is pointing towards an El Nino phase,” said Grace Mutandiro, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate.

“El Nino is associated with above-average warming of the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean and in most years is usually associated with reduced rainfall activity over the sub-region.

“We are informed by science that approximately 62 per cent of El Nino phases have resulted in below-normal rainfall in Zimbabwe, leaving us with less than 40 per cent chance of good rains during this coming season,” Mutandiro said.

Zimbabwe’s farming season usually runs from October to March.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the country’s economy, contributing 10.46 per cent to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017.

Zimbabwe’s largely under-mechanised agriculture sector is mostly rain-fed.

Zimbabwe produced 2.15 million tonnes of maize in 2017, the highest yield in two decades, due to favourable weather conditions and a special programme for import substitution.