Government is targeting to produce 415 000 tonnes of wheat this year under a contract farming deal financed by commercial banks to the tune of $2,7 billion, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has revealed.
This follows a significant increase in the planted area from 24 186 hectares last year to 80 000 this year.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, VP Chiwenga said the 415 000 tonnes would have a surplus of 15 000 tonnes, as the country required approximately 400 000 tonnes annually.
“Under the commercial contract farming programme, we are talking about $2, 7 billion,” he said.
“Under the private sector we are looking at $392 000 to achieve the required tonnage, while from the private sector we are expecting 90 000 tonnes and the commercial contract farming programme will produce 325 000 tonnes of the cereal. God willing, we should, for the first time, have a reserve after all our requirements.
“To this end, the main private sector contractors have formed a Food Crops Contractors Association. The association has started engaging the ministries of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement and Finance and Economic Development as well as banks and financiers in a bid to increase the area under wheat production this season.
CBZ Bank is targeting to finance 65 000 hectares with a package that includes fuel, seed, chemicals and fertiliser for all wheat planting clusters selected by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Agriculture.
VP Chiwenga said uninterrupted power supply was guaranteed for the winter wheat production.
“Further to the availability of irrigation water, the assurance of an uninterrupted supply of electricity is critical,” he said.
“The Ministry of Energy and Power Development and Zesa gave us the necessary assurance that barring major faults, electricity supply would be uninterrupted in wheat farming clusters for the period starting April to September 2020, and at a tariff, which is 55 percent of commercial rates.”
He said inputs should be provided timeously to registered farmers using the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) network of depots and dissemination of information would be mainly through electronic, print and digital platforms to avoid large physical gatherings.
VP Chiwenga said all inputs required were available locally and their provision should be expedited to enable farmers to plant in the optimum planting period.
He said for the wheat producer price to remain attractive to farmers, it shall be reviewed regularly in line with changes in input prices using a cost plus 20 percent margin pricing policy.