With Zimbabwean facing another possible 2019/2020 drought, there have been deafening calls for the government to engage in cloud seeding. This comes as a lot of crops are staring at permanent wilting. But cloud seeding even it works, might not be the perfect solution that people think it is.

Stealing rain

There are a lot of pros and cons for cloud seeding but one of the most problematic drawbacks is “rain stealing”. You see more often than not rain-bearing often clouds go through several regions/areas before they are finally transformed into the rain.

Take for example the case of Zimbabwe where a good number of clouds travel as a system from the Eastern parts of the country. At what point do we decide to seed a cloud? If its as early as possible we might see a case where a seeded cloud brings rain in Mutare when in actual fact if the rain-bearing cloud had been left to its devices it would have brought rain to Harare.

In the above case, at least the rain falls on our side of the border in Zimbabwe but for the cloud to reach our land-locked country, it would have had to travel through Mozambique which would be, given the setup, have an advantage as it can intercept most rain-bearing clouds and seed them.

If it sounds too hypothetical and not too real then you need to read up on China which has the largest cloud seeding system in place. Tensions have risen between different regions due to accusations of rain stealing.