Rains hamper winter maize harvesting
by Geraldine Katunga
George Maponga in Masvingo
Harvesting of winter maize grown by Government and sugar producer Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe in the Lowveld has started but progressing at a snail’s pace owing to incessant rains.
Heavy rains that have been pounding most parts of Masvingo has made it almost impossible to use combine harvesters to mop the grain.
Harvesting is being done manually at Triangle, Hippo Valley, Mwenezana Estates and Chilonga irrigation schemes where a combined 3 659 hectares was put under the staple crop.According to Mr Aaron Muchazivepi the Masvingo Provincial Agritex Officer harvesting of winter grain is a challenge because of wet conditions.
“We are using manual labour to harvest the grain grown under the winter maize programme because we cannot deploy combine harvesters in muddy fields.We are not sure yet how long the exercise will take but we are happy it has started,”he said.Under the food initiative, Tongaat contributed the largest share of 2500ha under maize at Hippo Valley while Masvingo Development Trust chipped in with 1 000ha.
Smallholder farmers at Chilonga have 159ha winter maize which is also being harvested manually. The winter maize initiative is a brainchild of Government to end food deficit in the country by exploiting many underutilised dams in Masvingo province.
Last year slightly over 1150 tonnes were realised under the initiative and the figure is billed to multiply more than ten fold this season.