THE Meteorological Services Department will announce its agro-based weather forecast for the 2018 /19 agricultural season at the end of this month or the beginning of next month, head of the public weather service Mr Tich Zinyemba has said.

He said the forecast was important to farmers for planning purposes in relation to rainfall patterns, weather and climate.

The 2017 /18 agricultural season was characterised by a long dry spell, which affected many crops resulting in a large percentage being written-off.

In an interview at the just-ended Mazowe Valley Agriculture Show in Bindura, Mr Zinyemba said the Met Department was part and parcel of the agricultural sector and the economy at large as it plays a crucial  role.

“At the moment we don’t have the information on the agro-based weather forecast for the 2018/ 19 agricultural season, but we will be announcing it (the forecast) by the end of August or at the beginning of September thereabout,” he said.

“The forecast is important to farmers as it plays a significant role in their planning for example the 10-day agro-meteorological bulletins show whether certain areas will receive rainfall or not as well as the amount of rainfall or prolonged dry spells.

“This will help them determine for instance when to apply fertiliser like top dressing, which needs moisture. And in case of prolonged dry spells like what transpired last season, farmers can take contingent measures to mitigate the situation,” he said.

He said the department also provided specialised weather forecasts like heavy rains which end up causing floods in low lying areas like the Dande Valley and high temperatures which cause heat waves so that people can take contingencies.

Mr Zinyemba added that since most of the areas, which were affected by these climatic conditions have poor communication networks, Government was distributing community radios to warn the locals of any dangers likely to affect their areas caused by weather conditions.