All set for winter wheat season

Precious Manomano

Herald Reporter

Sowing of winter wheat is expected to start next month, with agricultural experts urging farmers to start planting soon to take advantage of the moisture that is available across all provinces.

Land clearing and tilting is currently underway in most areas in preparation of winter wheat planting.

A total of 85 000 hectares have been targeted for winter wheat this year and this is expected to produce 408 000 tonnes, well above the 375 000 tonnes of last year and the minimum of 360 000 tonnes needed for self-sufficiency.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe said the country is ready to produce a record harvest following the good rains that have filled dams and ensured more than enough water for irrigation.

Dr Makombe advised farmers around Marondera to start planting next month adding that advice from agronomists is very important and noted the successes of those who planted early last season.

“Farmers should plant early to avoid disasters that transpired last season since more wheat was affected by rains. Yes, most people do it around 15th of May but l urge farmers from other areas to plant early even small portions. Time is very crucial because late planted wheat was seriously affected by rains. Farmers should secure inputs on time as well to ensure that we produce more this season. Yes, a bumper harvest is predicted since we have good rains this season for the production of the crop,” he said.

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo said farmers are geared for winter wheat farming with a good harvest predicted.

She said if the Grain Marketing Board paid maize farmers on time, then wheat production would be easily managed by the same farmers since they needed the maize payments to facilitate wheat production.

“Inputs are needed so that is why l am saying if GMB paid maize farmers on time, we can fully engage in wheat production. We are also intending to increase wheat hectarage this season. We have enough water for irrigation. We are aiming higher than last season,” she said.

This year wheat is supported through private contractors, Government’s National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS), Presidential wheat support scheme and self-financed growers.

CBZ Agro-Yield is targeting at contracting 20 000ha at a projected average yield of 4,8 tonnes/ha, with the estimated production set at 96 000 tonnes. The AFC Land Bank is targeting at contracting 15 000ha with a projected yield of 4,8t/ha and the estimated production is 72 000 tonnes.

The private sector and self -financed scheme will contract 25 0000ha of wheat with a projected average yield of 4.8t/ha to give an estimated production of 120 000 tonnes while the Presidential scheme is targeted for 20 000 ha for wheat, at a projected average yield of 4,8t/ha and estimated production is 96 000 tonnes.

The 2023/24 summer and the 2023 winter season programme target is to sustainably increase crop production and productivity to meet and surpass the national requirements for both human consumption and industrial use.

Government has been targeting increases in wheat production to meet the national requirement in line with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, the Agriculture Recovery Plan and the National Development Strategy 1 and in pursuit of the vision of becoming an empowered and prosperous upper middle income society by 2030. The surpluses can be used to build reserves, and then can open Zimbabwe’s first-ever wheat exports.

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