Several provinces in Zambia, including Eastern, Southern, and Central, are grappling with an extended dry spell, leaving many districts parched and posing a significant threat to maize crops. The dry conditions, attributed to the El-Nino phenomenon, have persisted for the last 21 days, affecting not only agricultural productivity but also raising concerns about food security in the affected areas.
Government authorities have mobilized experts in agriculture, weather forecasting, and disaster management to assess the impact of the prolonged dry spell on maize crops across the affected provinces. Likezo Musobani, Assistant Director Prevention and Mitigation at the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), led a team to evaluate the situation in Eastern Province. They found that approximately seven out of every ten maize fields visited had experienced significant withering and stress.
In Lupenga Village, Rufunsa District, one farmer, Esau Nkhoma, lamented the devastating impact of the dry spell on his anticipated maize yield. He reported that his expected harvest of around 200 bags of maize has been drastically reduced to almost nothing due to the adverse weather conditions.
Peter Zulu, Acting Chief Agriculture Economist in the Ministry of Agriculture, who accompanied the assessment team in Eastern Province, expressed grim prospects for crop recovery. He noted that maize crops at the tussling stage, poised to begin pollination, have been severely affected by the dry spell, leaving little hope for meaningful yield.
Matakala Mushimbei, a Meteorological Assistant at the Zambia Meteorological Department, provided insight into the weather forecast, indicating that the dry spell situation is likely to persist in most parts of Eastern Province for the next seven days. This forecast underscores the urgency of the situation and the need for swift action to mitigate the impact on agricultural productivity and ensure food security for affected communities.
As the dry spell persists, government authorities and relevant stakeholders are urged to intensify efforts to support affected farmers, provide relief assistance where necessary, and implement strategies to enhance resilience to future climate-related challenges. Collaborative and proactive measures are essential to safeguarding livelihoods and sustaining agricultural productivity in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns.