Maize harvest to hit 20-year high Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

Elita Chikwati-Agriculture Reporter 

Zimbabwe is expected to harvest 2,7 million tonnes of maize during the 2020/21 summer cropping season, the highest yield in 20 years, the Second Round Crop and Livestock Assessment report shows.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa this week revealed that Cabinet had adopted the report presented by the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Ministry.

A surplus of over 820 000 tonnes of cereals is expected this marketing season, the highest yield since the 2000/01 season.

The assessment report has revealed that cereal production is estimated at 3 075 538 tonnes against a national cereal requirement of 1 797 435 tonnes for human consumption and 450 000 tonnes for livestock.

According to the final assessment report, estimated maize production stands at 2 717 171 tonnes, which is a significant rise from the 907 628 tonnes produced in the 2019/2020 season.

“Government is pleased to report that Zimbabwe is set for a bumper harvest following the above-normal rains across the country during the 2020/2021 summer season.

“This is not withstanding the fact that the season terminated prematurely for almost all of the country’s districts and that some southern and central parts experienced wet spells in December and January,” said Minister Mutsvangwa at a post Cabinet briefing.

The report reads: “In addition to the good rainfall season in the 2020/2021 season, the practice of climate-proofed technologies (Pfumvudza/ Intwasa) significantly contributed to the increased yield levels supported by well-coordinated input programmes.

“There was marked improvement in maize yield across the country as a result of increased amount of rainfall and good distribution from the onset of the season in November 2020 to the end of February 2021,” reads the report. 

It states that maize production was dominated by the communal sector, which contributed 36 percent although yield levels were low compared to other sectors.

It has been noted that in some areas, yield levels were suppressed because of leaching during the months of December and January. 

“A few districts like Mudzi in Mashonaland East and Rushinga in Mashonaland Central experienced dry spells at the beginning of February, which led to poor yields and complete crop failure,” reads the report.

Traditional grains production is estimated at 347 968 tonnes, which is an increase of 128 percent compared to the 152 515 tonnes produced by farmers in 2019/2020 season.

Sorghum production is expected to be 244 063 tonnes which is 135 percent more than 103 684 tonnes obtained during 2019/2020 season. 

There was also an increase in finger millet production with farmers expected to harvest 13 223 tonnes registering an increase of 35 percent from the 9 799 tonnes produced during last summer’s cropping season.

“Notable decrease in area planted to finger millet was noted in some districts of Masvingo province and Manicaland due to incessant rains which affected transplanting of the crop.

“In Manicaland, the cessation of support programmes for the crop could have also contributed to the decrease in area planted,” said the report.

Pearl millet production increased by 132 percent from last season’s 39 032 tonnes to 90 683 tonnes while groundnut production increased from 87 498 tonnes to 208 864 tonnes, a 139 increase attributed a good rainy season. 

Sunflower production also increased by 4 751 tonnes in 2020/2021 season, from last season’s 9 447 tonnes to 14 198 tonnes mainly owing to good and well distributed rains and increased Government input support towards the crop.

Tobacco production is expected to increase by eight percent from 184 042 tonnes produced last year to 200 245 tonnes in the current season. 

The ministry said farmers who planted with early rains were forced to replant as the crop failed due to a long dry spell. 

“The rainfall season ended prematurely, at the end of February to early March throughout the country. Temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall was generally good throughout the season. Wet spells were more prevalent in the Southern and central provinces. Some dry spells were also recorded in some districts,” said the report

The wet spells resulted in nutrient deficiency, especially nitrogen as well as water logging which led to yield reduction.

Nitrogen deficiency was also compounded by the shortage and high cost of nitrogenous fertilisers. The dry spells also caused complete crop failure in a few districts.

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has received over 11 000 tonnes of grains from farmers with maize daily deliveries now averaging over 1 000 tonnes.

Maize production is this year estimated at 2 717 171 tonnes, which is significantly higher than the 907 628 tonnes produced in the 2019/2020 season.

Traditional grains production is projected at 347 968 tonnes, which is 128 percent more than the 152 515 metric tonne output of the previous season. 

The total cereal production projection is 3 075 538 metric tonnes, against a national cereal requirement of 1 797 435 metric tonnes for human consumption and 450 000 metric tonnes for livestock. 

GMB chief executive, Mr Rockie Mutenha yesterday said the parastatal was on point in terms of payments to farmers.

Treasury set aside $60 billion for the procurement of grain from farmers.

“We have received 9 500 tonnes of maize from farmers compared to 1 395 tonnes during the same period last year. We have also received 209 tonnes of traditional grains and 1 600 tonnes of soyabeans. We are now receiving upwards of 1 000 tonnes of maize per day as moisture content reduces,” he said.

GMB is buying maize at $32 000 per tonne, traditional grains 38 000 per tonne and soyabean at $48 000 per tonne. 

Farmers who deliver grain to GMB depots will be paid in 72 hours while those delivering to collection points will be paid in five working days. A total of 1 389 buying points have been identified for the convenience of farmers, said Minister Masoka, adding that a further 400 collection points are being identified. 

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