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Heavy rains leave trail of destruction

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GILBERT Chinharo (51) trudges through muddy waters that cover his field as he haplessly tries to save his soya bean crop after three days of incessant rain at Devonia village in Chinhoyi, about 120 kilometres west of Harare.

NYASHA CHINGONO

Across his field, which has been turned into puddles, is a trail of destruction left by heavy rain. Broken trees blocking roads and flooded roads can be seen from Chinharo’s farm.

 Chinharo’s three hectares of soybean were washed away by rain last week, leaving the father of three counting his losses.

 While many farmers across the country are elated that the heavens finally opened following a prolonged dry spell, farmers in Devonia, formerly owned by white farmers before the 2000 land reform programme, wish the heavens had given them less rain.

As rains continue to pound, farmers here are battling to divert the water forming puddles on their farms, as they fear losing their crop. Chinharo, who has been farming in the area since the early 2000s, said there is no hope for his crop.

“I had planted three hectares of soybean, expecting to get at least 1 200 tonnes per hectare but this is a disaster. There is no hope of getting anything this year,” he told The NewsHawks.

“The water is not receding so we are just wishing that God will withhold the rains for a while so that I can save my crop.”

A drive around the area shows massive devastation as families that rely on farming for their livelihood gaze at their farms in despair.

Among them is Gilbert Kakora (32), who was introduced to farming several years ago. Following successful farming seasons, Kakora is staring at a major loss this season, after seven hectares of maize were wiped away by the rains.

“My crop is now a write off. I was really expecting to get more than 13 tonnes from this piece of field because it is very fertile, but the heavens said no. I hope the rains will recede anytime soon so that I can replant. That is my only hope,” Kakora said while his twin brother worked to divert water from the field.

As a group of young people toiled to de-water the fields, the skies turned grey, threatening a heavy downpour, worsening an already dire situation. Melody Maupa (43) narrated how she woke up to a large puddle in her field, up to her knees. As rains poured on 10 January, Maupa feared her house was going to be washed away.

 “The situation is now better, it was worse a few days ago. My field looked like a dam, I could not believe my eyes,” Maupa said as she showed the news crew pictures of the devastation.

“I have lost my soyabean and maize crops. There is nothing we can do, this is nature,” she said.

Farmers here say the flooding was worsened by the bursting of nearby Nyamtsvindi Dam on 10 January, forming a waterway along a valley that leads to vast swathes of arable land.

While other farmers have successfully de-watered their farmland, farmers like Kennedy Majoni are battling to remove large amounts of water that has formed puddles on their farms. Majoni, an electrician by profession, is leasing the farm from a local farmer. In despair, he haplessly gazes at his farm in utter devastation.

“I planted my soyabean on 1 January but this is a total disaster,” Majoni lamented.

“A hectare of soyabean will give me 3,500 tonnes which is a substantial amount of money but as things stand there is nothing to expect,” he added, saying diverting the water from the fields was a mammoth task due to the pressure from the dam.

“Diverting water is a near-impossible task because the rains have been pounding for three nights which means there is a lot of water underneath. This makes it difficult to do anything, we may have to engage experts to find out how we can go about this because we risk losing all our savings.”

While the rains have been a blessing to desperate farmers across the country who had endured a dry spell, the current wet spell has brought devastation to some farmers.

In Marondera, a hailstorm destroyed 25 hectares of tobacco owned by a young farmer a week before the first harvest. The farmer, who is counting huge losses, will have to wait for next season to replant.

With the government pinning its hopes on agriculture, a good rainy season will be critical to achieviing a good yield. Following a good 2020/21 agricultural season, Zimbabwe is expecting a repeat this year, with experts saying this would boost economic fortunes.

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