Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe has produced 186 243 tonnes of wheat during the 2017-18 season with 80 percent of the tonnage delivered from farmers contracted under Command Agriculture.
Of the 186 000 tonnes, 148 356 179 tonnes were delivered by farmers who benefited from the Government’s Command Agriculture programme.
Last season the country produced less than 100 000 tonnes of wheat.
The country requires 460 000 tonnes of wheat every year and current efforts are expected to progressively increase production to wipe out the deficit.
Wheat production had declined with the country becoming a net importer of the commodity as farmers were no longer interested in growing the crop due to high production costs.
Grain Marketing Board general manager Mr Rockie Mutenha yesterday confirmed that Zimbabwe had done well in terms of wheat production during the 2017-18 season.
“We have done well considering that Zimbabwe only produces the crop in winter unlike other countries that have wheat in summer.
“Last year we had high yields because of the Command Agriculture programme. We are yet to start receiving this year’s wheat,” he said.
Lands, Agriculture Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri recently said Command Agriculture had performed beyond expectations.
“At the inaugural phase, 2016-17 of the Command Agriculture programme, 1 210 558 tonnes of maize inclusive of 461 114 072 tonnes of Command Agriculture maize was delivered to the GMB by end of March 2018,” he said.
“At the end of the GMB financial period ending March 31, 2018 wheat deliveries stood at 186 243 tonnes with contracted Command Agriculture farmers contributing 148 356 179 tonnes which is 79,7 percent to the overall winter wheat intake stocks. Soyabean deliveries stood at 31 122 070 tonnes at as at August 22, 2018,” he said.
Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet and chairman of the Integrated Command Agriculture Taskforce, Mr Justin Mupamhanga, said Command Agriculture had done well and seen an increase in production in the different areas of agriculture.
“The success of the programme has also increased the need for equipment and infrastructure spread nationwide such as combine harvesters, driers and threshers.
“Command Agriculture has galvanised the whole farming community and generated a lot of excitement. The programme has turned farming into business ventures and farms are no longer regarded as weekend leisure resorts. All participants in the programme feel, act and are motivated by one rallying call – national food security.
“The success of the programme has ensured that the country is now food sufficient and no longer imports maize thereby saving on foreign currency. The country can now focus on development and not to concentrate on issues of the stomach,” he said.
Mr Mupamhanga also said Government had contracted more than 71 000 hectares for maize and soyabean production of land for Command Agriculture by end of August.
He said farmers had committed over 208 250 hectares for Command Agriculture by August 28.
“Mobilisation of inputs is in full swing with the distribution of inputs in progress. By August 28, 198 482 hectares had been registered and 70 266 hectares contracted under maize respectively. A total of 9 770 hectares have been registered under soyabeans with 1 264 hectares being contracted.
“More than 40 000 tonnes of basal fertiliser have been secured by the financier as at 28 August 2018,” he said.