Zimbabwe faces drought in 2018/19 farming season

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Dry crops affected by drought

(Xinhua / NAN) Zimbabwe is likely to experience the El Niño phase, which will lead to erratic rainfall during the agricultural season of 2018/19, a government official said Wednesday.

This will be the second drought for the country three years after the El Niña-induced drought in 2016, which left a quarter of the rural population in need of food assistance.

This period was the most difficult in Zimbabwe for 30 years.

"The rainy season in 2018/19 points to the El Niño phase," said Grace Mutandiro, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, Water Resources and Climate.

"El Niño is associated with a higher warming of the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean and in most years is usually associated with a decrease in precipitation activity in the subregion.

"We are informed by science that approximately 62 percent of El Niño's phases have led to a decrease in precipitation in Zimbabwe, which gives us less than 40 percent chance of good rains this coming season," Mutandiro said.

The season of Zimbabwe's agricultural season usually runs from October to March.

Agriculture is the backbone of the country's economy, contributing 10.46 percent to its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017.

Zimbabwe's largely inadequately mechanized agriculture sector is mainly fueled by rain.

Zimbabwe produced 2.15 million tons of corn in 2017, which is the highest yield in two decades due to favorable weather conditions and a special program of import substitution.

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