Zimbabwe could have higher than average rainfall in the coming 2020-2021 cropping season, with a global climate agency predicting greater chances of a La Nina, a weather event normally associated with wetter conditions.
According to the latest Global Agricultural Geo-monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM) global outlook report, Southern Africa may receive more rainfall compared to the 2019-2020 farming season.
The GEOGLAM forecast is largely expected to be similar or different, depending on other variants to the SADC regional rainfall forecast for the 2020-2021, which is expected to be issued this week.
A national forecast for Zimbabwe is expected to be made in the coming few days as the country steps up efforts to prepare for the summer crop.
“El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions are likely to continue through summer 2020 ENSO and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions are currently neutral and are expected to remain neutral through the northern hemisphere summer,” read part of the report.
“However, there is an elevated chance of La Niña or La Niña-like climate arising by October. Such conditions are associated with the combined influence of abnormally cool equatorial East Pacific sea surface waters and abnormally warm sea surface waters in the western Pacific.
“La Niña or La Niña-like conditions during October-December typically reduce rainfall in East Africa, Central Southwest Asia, southern Brazil and central Argentina and increase rainfall in Southern Africa, Australia, and eastern Brazil.”
Climate experts say cooling waters over the Pacific Ocean were pointing towards La Nina.
La Ninas are normally associated with wet conditions for Zimbabwe and the entire southern Africa sub-continent, but a local weather expert cautioned that they sometimes don’t result in widespread rain.
Climate experts further say that La Nina events are also associated with heightened risk of cyclones as well as cool daytime temperatures.
Zimbabwe and most other SADC countries recorded the lowest rainfall in nearly four decades in the 2018-2019 cropping season resulting in increased food insecurity and water shortages across the region.
In the 2019-2020 cropping season, low seasonal rainfall totals were observed in the region primarily as a result of delayed and erratic onset of rains in several areas that resulted in reduced area planted and poor germination.