Some Irrigation Farmers Count Losses As Frost Destroy Crops
13 August 2021
Some smallholder irrigation farmers in Matebeleland South are counting their losses after frost destroyed some of their crops.
Zimbabwe experienced extremely cold weather conditions in some parts of the country this year and authorities are still assessing the impact.
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Mrs Cecilia Sebata, a member of Pelele Irrigation Scheme in Ntalale area Ward 11, Gwanda, said a quarter of their produce was destroyed by frost. She said they mainly lost tomatoes and cabbages. She said:
We were greatly affected by the cold weather as it cost us our crops. Our irrigation is 5,7 hectares and it has 81 farmers. We had planted tomatoes, vegetables, cabbages and wheat. About a quarter of what we had planted was destroyed by the cold. All the tomatoes were completely destroyed while some of the cabbages were affected. The wheat and vegetables are in a better state.
This is a huge loss to us because we were hoping to harvest our produce and sell it in order to get income. We are in business and such incidences are a major blow for us. This garden is a source of our livelihood. We have now removed the tomatoes and we have replanted them.
Mr John Sibanda, a member of Phaswana Garden in Ward 17, Gwanda said half of their crops were affected by frost when they were almost ready for harvesting. Added Sibanda:
Due to the cold spell, all the maize crop dried up, we also lost tomatoes and cabbages. We were really optimistic for a good harvest but we lost half of our crops.
We have removed all those crops that were affected by frost and we have replanted. The cold was too much this time around and the crops failed to withstand it.
Bambanani Irrigation Scheme in Ward 11 in Mangwe was affected by frost.
Matabeleland South Acting Provincial Agricultural Officer, Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said a number of farmers across the province lost their tomatoes, cabbages and maize.
Smallholder irrigation farmers have also said markets for their produce had dwindled due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, they say a ban on buses and kombis has made it difficult to transport their to get their goods to customers in the Gwanda CBD and Bulawayo.
More: The Chronicle