AFC set to harvest 25pc of 2023 winter wheat Farmers are describing 2023 as a great season where productivity is high compared to the previous year, attributing the good rainfall pattern as the major contributor in the production success. - File picture).

Edgar Vhera

Agriculture Specialist Writer

WITH the country targeting to speedily harvest the 2023 winter wheat to escape the early rains, AFC Leasing Company (AFC) has announced its preparedness to harvest over 25 percent of the cereal planted this year.

AFC Holdings group head — strategy, marketing and corporate communications Ms Caroline Mozhendi revealed this yesterday when she gave an update on the company’s preparations for the harvesting season, which has just started in some areas.

“AFC is targeting to harvest over 21 500 hectares of wheat. This is jointly funded by the Presidential Input Scheme (PIS), Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) and ourselves and makes about 25 percent of the more than 90 000 hectares planted nationwide. We are ready to support the harvesting of winter wheat and have commenced deploying combine harvesters to our country wide cluster centres,” she said.

Ms Mozhendi said this was a 300 percent increase from the 5 400 hectares done when the programme started last season.

“We have significantly improved our efficiency and capacity, hence will be able to quadruple the hectarage we harvest this season. About 95 percent of the crop is expected to be harvested from Midlands, Manicaland and Mashonaland West, East and Central provinces with 40 combine harvesters having already been committed to these provinces,” Ms Mozhendi said.

To ensure a wider reach to all farmers, 22 cluster service centres have been established across the country where over 55 combine harvesters and 600 tractors are stationed. This positioning arrangement makes it easy for the deployment of equipment where it will be needed for use in the shortest possible time.

Priority has been given to the early established crop in areas like Middle Sabi (Manicaland), Jotsholo and Maphisa (Matabeleland South) for the deployment of combine harvesters and work has already begun, she said.

“Our rates remain competitive and we accept all currencies for payment. We are also flexible enough to accept farm commodities as a form of payment to ensure that no farmer goes without equipment, as we drive the Government’s agenda of wheat self-sufficiency,” added Ms Mozhendi.

Meanwhile, the recent weekly report by Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services (ARDAS) shows that the country has planted 90 192 hectares surpassing its 90 000 target with projected yields of over 420 000 tonnes.

The weekly report revealed that the bulk of the crop was at the soft dough stages and was in good condition with some fields such as ARDA Jotsholo ready for harvesting.

Last year the country planted 80 885 hectares under wheat and achieved a harvest of over 375 000 tonnes making the country wheat secure from local production.

Harvesting of the 2023 winter wheat has to be expedited to avoid damage by early rains and veld fires.

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