Maize harvest impressive: Report Dr Anxious Masuka

Blessings Chidakwa

Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe is food secure having already maize stocks that will last for the next 5,5 months with the bulk of the summer harvest still being gathered and delivered while wheat stocks will last until the next harvest as the country continues to be self-sustainable since 2020 under the Second Republic.

As the agriculture sector continues to bloom, the country also registered a 52,3 percent increase in sales of tobacco so far compared to the previous season boosting exports. 

Acting Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere addressing the media during a post-Cabinet briefing said Cabinet received an update on summer crops marketing and winter wheat planting which showed that the country is food secure.

In the report presented by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Anxious Masuka, grain stocks held by the Grain Marketing Board Sunday stood at 200 658 tonnes of maize, 36 863 tonnes of traditional grains, and 147 748 tonnes of wheat.

“Millers are being allocated 27 000 tonnes of maize, while SILO Food Industry is being allocated an additional 16 000 tonnes. At this rate, the grain will last for the next 5,5 months,” he said.

Minister Muswere added that: “The wheat stocks in the country provide 8,4 months’ cover, and at an allocation rate of 21 000 tonnes per month, they are enough to last until the next intake in August/September 2023. The grain intake (maize, soya bean and sunflower) by the GMB for this season now stands at 10 362 tonnes.

He said a total of 47 562 hectares were planted under wheat as at 28 May 2023 which is 41 percent above last year’s figure as there is improved electricity supply across the provinces for wheat production.

“With tobacco, to date, a total of 227 million kg has been sold at an average price of US$3,01/kg, compared to 146 million kg sold at an average price US$3/kg in the 2021/22 season.

“This represents a 52,33 percent increase in sales. Most of the tobacco is being exported to China, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Belgium, Egypt and Indonesia,” said Minister Muswere.

The Acting Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister also said as for cotton, the Agricultural Marketing Authority has established 862 sales points for this marketing season.

He said Cottco expected to purchase 85 percent of the cotton under the Government Support Scheme.

Minister Muswere said Cabinet also received and considered the report on the state of preparedness for the 2023/2024 Summer Cropping Programme as presented by Agriculture Minister Masuka.

“The nation is being informed that preparations for the 2023/2024 summer season are commencing early in order to limit the disruption of logistics in the movement of fertilisers, fuel and other inputs as the year progresses.

“Early indications point towards suppressed rainfall amounts during the 2023/2024 summer season, hence the need to strengthen climate-proofed agriculture through improved agro-ecological tailoring of crops, enhancing business advisory services and entrenching the farmer field schools concept,” he said.

Minister Muswere said the Government Climate–Proofed Presidential Input Programme will target 3, 5 million farmers from communal, A1, small-scale commercial farming, old resettlement and the transient urban cultivation sectors for cereals, oilseeds and legumes.

“The programme will support 5 Pfumvudza plots per household with an agro-ecological region-specific crop input package for maize, sorghum, pearl millet, soya beans, sunflower, groundnuts, vegetables and African peas,” he said.

Minister Muswere said under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa package for each household will be a 10kg pack of maize seed for farmers in regions 1 and 2; a 5kg pack for those in region 3; and a 2kg pack of either sorghum or pearl millet seed for those in regions 4 and 5.

“Each farmer will also receive a 50kg bag of basal fertiliser, top-dressing fertiliser and lime. The package per farmer for other optional crops will be 2kg each for sorghum, sunflower, sugar beans and groundnuts as well as 1kg of pearl millet and African peas.

“The Zunde RaMambo scheme will support 10 plots for chiefs, 7 plots for headmen and 5 plots each for village heads,” he said.

Minister Muswere said regarding the target for the 2023/2024 cotton Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, two plots of 0,25 hectares will be required for each grower to access inputs with the programme having a tillage component and support for hybrid cotton varieties.

“Pertaining the Presidential Rural Development Programme, the target for 2023/2024 is to drill 2 200 boreholes, distribute three fruit trees, seed for traditional vegetables and sweet potato vines to 3 million households throughout the country.

“The type of fruit trees to be grown will be determined by the agro-ecological regions,” he said.

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