Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
Midlands Province is targeting to put more than 2 600 hectares of land under winter wheat this year and has started the verification process of potential farmers.
Last year, about 2 300 hectares were under winter wheat through Command Agriculture and private sector initiatives.
Crop and livestock production provincial officer Mrs Medlinah Magwenzi said they were expecting an increase in the number of winter wheat farmers this year.
“We are now conducting a verification exercise to establish the number of farmers that want to plant winter wheat and we have started with Kwekwe, Mvuma and Gweru districts.”
Mrs Magwenzi said they were also working on having contract farmers who will be assisted with inputs and other requirements.
“Our target is to put more than 2 600 hectares under winter wheat hence we are encouraging even those without the required inputs to register so that they can be assisted,” she said.
Mrs Magwenzi said the winter wheat planting period was expected to start next month and end on May 31.
“We are engaging farmers to work out logistics of distributing inputs and fuel to enable them to start preparing the land for planting next month,” she said.
Mrs Magwenzi said due to poor rainfall received between the 2019 to 2020 season, most of the country’s dams have low water levels, with the situation expected to affect yields this winter season.
In the Midlands Province wheat is usually grown in Kwekwe, Mvuma and Gweru districts under irrigation.
Last week, Government announced that it was 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, said Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
This is follows a significant increase in planted area from 24 186 hectares last year to 80 000 this year.
VP Chiwenga said the 415 000 tonnes would have a surplus of 15 000 metric tonnes, as the country required approximately 400 000 tonnes annually.
The country imports about 70 to 75 percent of its wheat requirements.
Meanwhile, Mrs Mangwenzi said her department was working with the police in conducting meat inspections in butcheries across the province to make sure that people don’t consume contaminated meat.
She said the move is coming at a time when there are reports that farmers are selling sick cattle to butcheries across the country.