WE are now in the rainy season with farmers about to plant, busy planting or having planted a week or two ago.

It is encouraging that rains are falling in decent amounts in many parts of the country. We are hopeful that they would not just be evenly spread countrywide but also right through the growing season.

If that happens, the forecast made by meteorologists in August would have come to pass. Farmers would be able to work their land, in the end harvesting enough for their needs and surplus for sale to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). We are all desperate for a big harvest this growing season after two successive drought years that rendered millions of our compatriots hungry and in need of food aid.

The encouraging rainfall amounts are falling in a year when the Government took a decision to supply inputs to as many as 1,8 million farmers under the Intwasa/Pfumvudza initiative.

While in previous years, the Government has given free seed, fertiliser and other inputs under various programmes, this year has been far different. In addition to seed and fertiliser, provision of technical assistance through Agritex has been expanded. Officers have been equipped with motor bikes so that they are more mobile.

We are confident that the good rains and the Government’s stronger involvement in production this year is a winning combination.

However, as we report elsewhere today, as the rainy season progresses, there is a risk of heavy, destructive rainfall from today. The torrents, according to the Meteorological Services Department (MSD), would be accompanied by thunderstorms. The authority warned yesterday that flash flooding is likely to occur in some parts of the country.

“Widespread morning rain and afternoon thunderstorms are expected tomorrow (today), Monday, 30 November 2020,” the MSD warned.

“Localised heavy falls and violent storms probable, especially over high ground. It should be warm by day becoming mild toward evening with cooling winds over Masvingo Province into Matabeleland South. More thunderstorms and heavy rains are expected and while it is good news for the farmer, members of the public should keep safe as lightning and flash flooding remain a potential threat.”

Thunderstorms come with the threat of lightning strikes that can kill people and livestock and destroy property.

Last week, more than 30 homesteads in Lusulu under Chief Sinamagonde in Binga District were destroyed after a heavy downpour preceded by a violent thunderstorm and strong winds hit the area. At least 200 villagers are now destitute following the natural disaster.

We warn our people to be alert to the hazards that come with heavy rains and thunderstorms. They must, as much as they can, not wander far away from their homes so that if heavy rains begin to fall they can quickly rush to the safety of their homes instead of having to cross rivers and streams to secure shelter.

If circumstances demand that they walk or drive, we implore them to be watchful of their environment making sure that they avoid rivers or streams. Many lives have been lost through drownings as some of us take the risk of crossing flooded rivers and streams. It is advisable that they seek safer shelter somewhere until the water level subsides and it is possible for them to cross the rivers or streams.

We must emphasise that the foregoing warnings go to motorists as well because a car is like a feather on a flooded river.

One person was killed, while two others were seriously injured after being struck by a lightning bolt in Mutare on Tuesday last week. Also, five people walking to work in Chiredzi were struck last week, one of them being killed.

It is important for our people to take precautions against this lethal natural phenomenon. This includes them ensuring that they seek shelter indoors when it is raining and thundery, ensuring that they don’t seek shelter under trees or near metallic materials. They must not handle water when it is raining.

If one is unfortunate to be caught in a storm while they are outdoors, they must make it a point that they don’t stand tallest wherever they are. Instead, they can crouch in the rain so that they are as short as everything around them.