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Hailstorm destroys 25ha tobacco lot

A hailstorm on Tuesday destroyed 25 hectares of tobacco owned by a young farmer in Marondera, a week before the first harvest.

Mr Tawanda Chihwai (34), whose farm is located in Marondera North, said the damage was a painful loss.

Mr Chihwai has to wait for next season to grow tobacco as the planting season is over.

While a complex hail insurance scheme was built up in colonial times to cope with such losses, this has largely lapsed, but the occasional hailstorms show the need for such insurance.

“We were supposed to harvest the tobacco next week, but it has been destroyed,” said Mr Chihwai.

“There is nothing left and I have to start planting again and that will be for next year. It is a very painful loss. I love farming because I grew up in a family that loves agriculture.

“It can be difficult to explain to someone who is not into it, but it is something that excites us because we grew up in a farming background and we have managed to survive through farming.

“We have done a lot of tangible things through agriculture.”

Mr Chihwai is not the only one that has been affected by rains this season, across the country in general, and in Mashonaland East Province in particular.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland East, Aplonia Munzverengwi, told The Herald yesterday that the disaster that hit Mr Chihwai was shocking.

“This year’s rains are causing disasters which have shocked us as a province,” she said.
“Two or three weeks ago in Mudzi, rains damaged houses for 51 families in Member of Parliament Newton Kachepa’s Constituency (Mudzi North).

“I have also heard that in Marondera rural, our son Tawanda Chihwai, who is also a member of the (Zanu PF) Youth League, has lost about 25 hectares of tobacco.
“We know that if you have 25 hectares of tobacco, we are talking of a huge amount of money which can transform a person’s life. So we are seeing that this year’s rains will cause more disasters.”

A number of other areas have been hit hard by the rains, with Gokwe and Binga, among others, having had roofs blown off and roads damaged.

The rains, which came on Tuesday, brought some relief to other farmers whose crops were giving in to moisture stress.

Ironically, while the rains damaged Mr Chihwai’s tobacco crop, some farmers have to replant their maize crop after it wilted due to lack of rains.

Source : The Herald

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