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Government takes action to mitigate drought risk

The Agriculture, Water and Forestry Ministry is continuing with the implementation of several of its policy directives to improve the sector’s financial management and to strengthen productive sectors.

The Dry Land Irrigation Project in the Zambezi region and the Rain Fed Crop Production Strategic Plan will be updated in the coming months in line with the National Agricultural Policy also to be revised and tabled in Parliament soon. Continuing at the helm of the ministry, Hon John Mutorwa said that the ministry is awaiting the finalisation of the government’s next step of drought mitigation by submitting a report to Cabinet together with the Office of the Prime Minister’s Directorate of Disaster and Risk Management. “I am very sure that current priority is that an announcement will be made on government response” Mutorwa said this week at the ministry’s headquarters while presenting the ministerial policy statement for 2015.” Mutorwa said that the early warning system team has done a second assessment after an initial study of the impact of drought at the end of January.
“Together with farmers’ observations that have been incorporated into the main report another proper assessment was completed end of February .” he said. An official from the Early Warning and Food Information Unit of the Directorate of Planning in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry confirmed that meetings were held this week to finalise the report with the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Agronomic Board reports that as of 01 May when the white maize marketing period starts, imports will be allowed to compensate for the expected shortfall in local production of this key staple but the Board pointed out that this will only be done to meet local millers’ need for raw cereal. It is envisaged that the import of white maize will be allowed for two to three weeks. The border re-opens only once the domestic harvest has been bought and partially milled. During the reporting period of 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 the Agronomic Board reports that only 5474 tonnes were yielded from the 10,275 rain-fed hectares planted, indicating a measly 0.53 tonnes yield per hectare. Two government projects, Etunda and Ndonga Lilena planted a second cycle of white maize, recording 540 tonnes from 120 hectares and 126 tonnes from 33.75 hectares respectively while the rest was sold as green maize. During the reporting period, maize farmers produced 37,360 tonnes in total.

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