SEROWE – The rainfall has been below average throughout the district, a situation that has led to a reduced ploughed area, this was revealed by the Central District Council chairperson, Peter Williams during his address to the full council on Monday. The ploughing season, which has just been concluded has seen 3, 945 farmers across the district benefiting from 1, 815 tons of fertilizer while 37, 082 farmers benefited from various types of seeds.
“To date 31, 813 hectares have been measured and ploughed by 10, 369 farmers, against 66, 566 hectares by 21, 187 farmers, comparatively this is 48 per cent of the previous ploughed area. A total of 5, 884 farmers have been paid a total amount of P14, 724, 768.00 for 18, 406 hectares. The general crop situation is very bleak, and this is as a result of the long dry spell aggravated by high temperatures,” revealed Williams.
The other thing pointed out as a setback to the arable sector, if not the entire agriculture sector is the incursions of wildlife that destroy both crops and perimeter fences. Farmers have been urged where feasible to consider salvaging failed crops and turn them into animal feed. The subsequent dry spells coupled with winds have been blamed for the drastic change in the grazing conditions on a downward trend too early than normal before the grass could even mature to withstand this dry spell.
“This situation leaves lots of uncertainties on the condition of the range into the winter season if it doesn’t rain earlier. This is an early warning that if this situation continues, it would lead to rapid loss of condition to the grazing and subsequently affect livestock condition negatively. The farming community is therefore advised to consider making contingency plan for supplementing their animals when the situation dictates,” he said.
Furthermore, Williams revealed that the cordon fences that were initially constructed to restrict cattle movement from and thus minimize disease spread in-case of outbreaks are now barely serving their intended purposes. This is as a result of the constant breaks that result in buffalo incursions. The efforts to repair the fence have also been reported not bearing fruit because of the elephants that continue to break the fences. Williams called for a holistic approach in abating the situation as the Ministry of Agriculture cannot manage alone.
The chairperson also addressed the issue of unemployment where he outlined employment creation as one of their priorities. He explained that they are expected to create employment for the youth as well as create employment for RADS settlement through affirmative action. And also they should practice local empowerment for small businesses in the community as well as empowering the less privileged groups in the society through economically viable projects so that they can create employment for themselves.