Major boost for winter wheat farming

Elita Chikwati
Agriculture Reporter
Small-scale farmers with access to irrigation can now move into winter wheat and get an extra crop during the year with the Presidential Inputs Scheme expanded to include winter wheat with about 5 000 hectares likely to be planted in this scheme while the Command Agriculture programme has surpassed the targeted 60 000 hectares.

Zimbabwe is targeting 85 000 hectares of wheat this winter from all farmers to ensure self-sufficiency.

Besides the small-scale farmers under Presidential Inputs and the larger farmers under Command Agriculture there are also those who can self-finance the crop or are privately contracted, and this group is likely to plant 15 000ha.

Since wheat has to be grown under irrigation the crop is pretty well guaranteed since it is climate-proof. The good rains in the rainy season just ending mean that irrigation and farm dams are largely full.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement acting director Agritex, Mr Stancilae Tapererwa, yesterday said land preparation was underway and some farmers under Command Agriculture had already been contracted.

“We are looking forward to an exciting winter wheat cropping season. We have three major programmes funding wheat production this year. The major programme is the Command Agriculture where CBZ is targeting to fund 60 000 hectares of wheat.

“Private investors, joint ventures and self-financed farmers are expected to put 15 000 hectares under wheat while the Presidential Inputs Scheme will cater for 5 000 ha,” he said.

Farmers under the Presidential Inputs Scheme will receive seed, fertilisers and chemicals on credit against delivery of the crop but will be expected to pay for electricity and labour.

Smallholder farmers at irrigation

schemes were being targeted for the Presidential Inputs Scheme.

Registration and mobilisation of inputs is in progress and for the 15 000ha of the privately contracted crop, land preparation has started, said Mr Tapererwa.

“Some farmers have harvested soya-beans and prepared land. Registration is underway for the major programme being funded by the CBZ. So far, the target of 60 000 hectares has been surpassed as farmers have registered for 74 000 hectares while area contracted is 39 000 hectares,” he said.

Last week, Lands Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos indicated that most Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots had inputs ready for collection while enough Compound D and seed were available with supplies of ammonium nitrate almost adequate.

Last season, farmers produced wheat that is enough cover nine months’ supply to meet domestic demand, a major jump, with GMB receiving 156 144 tonnes from the farmers it had under contract.

Zimbabwe needs at least 400 000 tonnes of wheat a year to meet its flour demand, a tonnage the ministry is keen to achieve. After last year’s major jump in the size of the harvest, another year of gain should see Zimbabwe for the first time ever achieving self-sufficiency.

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