Hunger looms in Gwembe following crop failure


GwembeAn estimated population of about 8,412 farming households in Gwembe district is faces imminent hunger following the projected 65-70 per cent crop failure in the 2012/2013 crop forecasting.

According to the report submitted to the District Development Coordinating Committee (DDCC) by the district agricultural office, the district has this year recorded maize average yields of 0.360 metric tonnes per hectare, a situation that will cause the district to be
food insecure.

This is a drastic reduction as compared to the 2011/2012 agricultural season when the district recorded an average maize production of about 1.2 metric tonnes per hectare and was able to sell to the Food Reserve Agency over 80,000 by 50 kg bags of maize.

In an effort to diversify agriculture, government through the Farmer Inputs Support Programme (FISP), distributed a total of 4410 maize inputs and 800 sorghum packs to the farmers during the farming.

However, the district has recorded crop failure during the 2012/2013 agricultural season due to a number of factors that include late onset of rains.

Other factors included uneven distribution of rain with too much soon after the onset, resulting in leaching of nutrients.

Heavy rains washed away bridges and roads making distribution of farming inputs difficult.

The invasion of Army worms further contributed the poor crop performance.

The prolonged dry spell, that the district experienced after free seeds were distributed to farmers whose fields were infested by armyworms, made germination poorer.

The report further added that rampant closures of the input (fertilizer) sheds by warehouse managers resulted in late distribution of inputs, which further resulted in late or no application of fertilizer to maize crops.