Government has set a target to put two million hectares under maize and small grains this season as part of efforts to boost food security and bring an end to chronic food shortages.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for Cropping Davis Marapira recently said Government was targeting at least 1,6 million ha under the staple maize crop with another 400 000 ha under small grains in this current farming season.
He said small-holder and large-scale irrigation schemes were expected to account for 14 000 ha that would be mainly under maize.
He said Zimbabwe was angling to achieve maize production of 2,2 million metric tonnes in the current season, a development that would make the country cease to be a net importer of food.
“We have set a target to put 1,6 million ha under maize in both communal and commercial farming areas as part of efforts to ensure that the country produces enough food and stop the importation of food.
“We have also set a target to have 400 000ha under small grains such as sorghum and millet because we want to leave no stone unturned in our quest to achieve food security,’’ he said.
Deputy Minister Marapira said most of the maize would be grown in the traditional maize-growing regions in Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces that receive good rains while low rainfall-receiving regions like Masvingo and the Matebeleland were expected to grow small grains.
He said Government would ensure that both communal and commercial farmers had access to seed and fertilisers, adding that plans were already underway to import additional fertilisers from South Africa to augment the locally produced commodity.
Seed supplied to farmers so far, he said, only met 40 percent of the requirements for this season while fertiliser supply was at about 35 percent of the season requirements.
He said Government was releasing funds almost daily to pay for fertilisers and seed so that this year’s farming season becomes a success provided the country receives good rains.
Government has already availed US$161 million for the procurement of inputs during the current farming season while tens of thousands of villagers across Zimbabwe’s rural communities also received support in seed and fertiliser under the Presidential Well-Wishers Inputs Support Scheme.
He said Zimbabwe this year also intends to grow 300 000ha of cotton mainly in the Midlands province.
The country also expects to increase ground nuts production with 350 000ha having been earmarked for the crop while soya beans was expected to cover 75 000ha.
Deputy Minister Marapira said the country also expected to grow 45 000ha of sugar cane in the Lowveld on the back of anticipated strong performance by out growers who are mainly indigenous beneficiaries of the country’s land redistribution programme.
Zimbabwe has over the past decade been blighted by severe food shortages blamed on recurrent droughts and lack of sufficient support to farmers by Government especially during the inclusive government era.