Maize producers in Masvingo North are optimistic of a good harvest this season despite generally low and erratic rains that have fallen in their area.

The majority of the maize crop is at tasselling stage and most of the farmers were confident that more rains could fall in the second half of the season.

Masvingo North is the food basket of the province.

Mr Arnold Bere of Farm 7 near the Zion Christian Church (Mbungo) said his maize crop was looking good and he was expecting a bumper harvest.

“I have a thriving 60 hectares maize farm and I am very optimistic of a good harvest, as my crop is at tasselling stage now,” said Mr Bere.

He said they have been receiving rains during the past two weeks and he was hopeful that they would continue to fall until mid-February.

“For the past three weeks, we have been receiving rains and if it continues for the next two week will consider ourselves done.

“As it is, there is enough moisture in the soil but we want another two weeks to ensure that we produce good quality maize.

“We had challenges in getting Ammonium Nitrate (AN) fertilizer but we eventually got it. I am sure by late February, most of the farmers will be having green mealies,” he said.

Another farmer from Hwendedzo area, Mr David Mutoko said his groundnuts had already reached a stage of pod development.

“I have a two hectare field of groundnuts, which have passed the rapid flowering stage and the crop is at pod development stage. I have also planted sugar millet which is doing well.

“Given the rains we have been receiving during the past weeks our pastures have been rejuvenated and that is good for our livestock.

“We are not worried about the El Nino-induced drought, as you can see, we are almost there. The next month will determine the amount of harvest we are going to realise,” said Mr Mutoko.

Masvingo crop and livestock provincial officer Mr Peter Chamisa said some farmers in Masvingo had a better chance of achieving normal yields because their crops were not affected by moisture stress.

“We have some pockets where crops are doing well like Masvingo North and some parts of Masvingo Central.

“Some farmers benefit from wetlands while in Masvingo North areas like Somerton, Hwendedzo and areas near Mbungo are benefiting from the rains that have the province has been receiving.

“Crops in these areas rarely suffer from moisture stress,” said Mr Chamisa.

He however, said districts like Chivi, Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Gutu, Bikita and Zaka were most likely to be hard hit by El-Nino effects.

He urged farmers to invest in water harvesting methods and to consider irrigation in areas where rains were erratic.