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Zimbabwe to continue receiving rains until end of March

ZIMBABWE is still to receive more rainfall up to end of March but farmers relying on rain-fed farming are advised against continued planting of maize if they do not have supplemental irrigation.

Weather experts say the country is still in the la Nina Phase while the El Nino is expected to intensify from April onwards.

La Nina is associated with above-normal rainfall in Zimbabwe and El Nino is associated with below-normal rainfall.

The 2021/22 rainfall season is expected to end in March. This is according to an advisory which came out yesterday during the presentation of the National Climate Outlook Forum (NACOF) Review 2021/2022.

The review was conducted virtually and attended by different stakeholders, including weather experts, non-governmental organisations and representatives from the tourism sector among others.

Presenting the outlook from February to May, Meteorological Services Department chief director, Prof Prosper Matondi, said during the February March and April (FMA) region 1 which constitutes of Harare Metropolitan, much of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, north-eastern parts of Midlands, most of Manicaland is expected to have increased chances of normal-to-above normal rainfall.

“Region 2 comprises the greater part of Matabeleland North, parts of Bulawayo Metropolitan, parts of the Midlands and parts of Mashonaland West, will have increased chances of normal-to-above normal rainfall.

“Region three which is made up of Masvingo, the bulk of the Midlands, the bulk of Bulawayo Metropolitan, extreme southern parts of Manicaland and the bulk of Matabeleland South will have increased chances of normal-to-above normal rainfall,” he said.

Prof Matondi said from March to May (MAM), the country is expected to have increased chances of normal-to-below normal rainfall in all areas.

MSD senior forecaster, MSD Agro Meteorologist in charge of season forecast, Benjamin Kwenda, said prolonged dry spells may occur especially towards the end of the season.

“The occurrence of tropical cyclones is highly likely during the season.

“It is important to stay updated on how these will affect us depending on the trajectory followed,” he said.

Kwenda said tropical cyclones may affect the distribution of the accumulated seasonal totals.

“Given the current forecast, there is need to improve stocks of top-dressing fertilisers. There is a higher risk of leaching during the season especially over the northern provinces where their normal are significantly higher.

“The season is not expected to be prolonged despite the late onset in some areas. Farmers should do their cropping with knowledge of what to expect in their area and if planting late maturing varieties, this should be supported by irrigation facilities,” he said.

He said high rainfall could lead to an increase in livestock diseases and farmers have been urged to stock up on dipping chemicals and ensure consistent dipping.

“There is an expected improvement in pastures and rangelands. The current high-water security in the country is set to be further boosted in the current inflow season in light of the forecasted normal to above normal rainfall season.

“The expected situation will result in excess inflow into the rivers and national dams. More dams are expected to spill in the ongoing season thus increasing the risk of riverine flooding.

“Localised heavy storms may occur resulting in flash flooding in some areas,” he said. The prevalence of malaria and water-borne diseases is expected to remain high until the end of the season.

The 2021 / 22 forecast that was issued in September 2021 showed that the country was going to have normal to above normal rains from October to March.

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