January 9, 2024

Govt launches national cloud seeding

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Talent Chimutambgi and Precious Manomano

THE Government has launched a weather modification strategy to counterbalance the effects of climate change that have seen the country receiving normal to below normal rainfall.

The process which is widely known as cloud seeding, is expected to address the effects of El Nino induced weather patterns affecting the agriculture sector through prolonged dry spells.

The exercise was launched concurrently in both Harare and Bulawayo yesterday through the collaboration of the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) and the Central Air Transport Services.

Cloud seeding is also called weather modification, a process where chemicals are used to modify clouds struggling to produce rains owing to some certain conditions.

The process can also be used to extend the rainy season to enable late planted crops to mature.

The MSD identifies the clouds with a potential to produce rain and uses a chemical called silver iodide to catalyse the process.

The process requires proper timing to yield the best results before the clouds dissipate.

The process was done for both the northern and southern regions of the country yesterday and is expected to take advantage of the current cloudy conditions to induce more rainfall.

The launch followed a preparedness test-run recently by the Government with the two aircraft being deployed to Chinhoyi and Mazowe.

Speaking during the National Cloud Seeding of the 2023-2024 launch, Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife Permanent Secretary Professor Prosper Matondi said the programme was set to be decentralised to other provinces would complement national set goals.

“The cloud seeding process is a national priority under the National Development Strategy 1, more so during this season as reaffirmed by His Excellency, President ED Mnangagwa in the last Cabinet meeting of 2023,” said Prof Matondi.

Prof Matondi said the weather modification process adding would later improve to incorporate new technologies.

The method used in Zimbabwe currently is Aerial Cloud-Seeding, which involves dispersing cloud seeding agents from an aircraft, with the seeding agents being released either directly into the cloud or into the air below the cloud.”

“Moving forward, we will strive to improve our cloud seeding technologies to incorporate drones, as is now the practice in most countries. This will eliminate risk to our Meteorologists, who sometimes are obliged to brave turbulent weather conditions to ensure they accomplish their mission,” said Prof Matondi.

Prof Matondi said a single aircraft can cover the country’s 10 provinces in a fortnight, adding the MSD would recalibrate to Zimbabwe Weather Services.

“We can actually use one plane to cover all the provinces in two weeks. This is the reason why the MSD is recalibrating to Zimbabwe Weather Services and it’s for the long term investment. We want to ensure that each province has got its own equipment so that the province responds to their own pattern,” he said. The Herald

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