Last week, I visited a farmer in southwest Zambia - Kazungula district to be exact. This area along the Chobe river between Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia is known to be drought prone. I was told it has something to do with the dry winds from the Kalahari desert, but I'm not a meteorologist, so I don't know. However, in terms of drought, it looks like this year will be no different.
The maize on our farmer's field was between three and five feet tall, some of it already tasseled, forced into early maturity by the dry weather conditions. Many leaves were already starting to curl and brown. It was hard to see that it would grow much taller. In a good year, he said, he could get upwards of 80 bags (50 kgs each) of maize from his two hectares.
A little while on, he showed us his ground nut (peanut) field (right). It had been planted after the first rains, which had come late (January). I might not have gotten this down right in my notes, but I believe he said it had been three weeks since the last precipitation. I asked him what he would do if the rains didn't come.
"There's nothing we can do," he said. "We can't control the weather."