The rains that swept across the country in recent weeks have left farmers with mixed feelings. Flora Molomo grows up to 10 separate crops on her three-hectare farm including leafy vegetables and cauliflower. Although happy with the rain showers that have been constant in Natale, she worries that with too much water the downpour could potentially harm some crops.
“If it continues [to rain] this way, this could badly affect my vegetables,” she feared.
“I want it to rain but definitely not too much.”
In Pandamatenga – one of the country’s largest ploughing areas – the situation is even worse.
Agronomy officer Michael Matsila explained that in December, rain fell heavily almost every day and noted that before the Christmas week, he had recorded high levels of rainfall.
The effects of these floods mean that farmers will plant later than usual if the rains don’t subside. However, Matsila believes something could be salvaged out of the situation. “This will mean that crops such as cowpeas and sunflower will be favoured over corn and sorghum since the former can survive on little water as the rainy season nears its end,” he explained.
However, the danger of planting late is that the harvest time would coincide with the advent of the notorious quelea birds, he warned. Small-scale farmers who do not have their own tractors and other machinery will also feel the pinch. So even if the rains subside, ploughing will prove a challenge, as some will not make the ISPAAD ploughing season deadline, which falls on February 15 for the Chobe District.
Agricultural extension officer for small scale farmers in Pandamatenga, Magdeline Enametse confirmed that there was currently neither ploughing nor soil tilling or any other crop farming activity taking place in the area.
Those who had tilled the soil in preparation for planting may have to re-do that because with the rain falling at this rate, weeds have also grown, posing an additional cost to farmers.