Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter
While farmers are pushing hard to bring in this year’s record wheat crop, around 4,9 percent of the planted area has been affected by heavy rainfall, that will damage some of the wheat still in the fields.
So far, farmers have harvested 256 000 tonnes of wheat from 59 000 hectares and Zimbabwe is expecting a bumper harvest of 380 000 tonnes this year, the first time since commercial wheat production started in 1966 that the country has reached self-sufficiency
The weekly update from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development revealed that 3 980ha, which is 4,9 percent of the planted area was affected by the rains and may have been damaged to some extent, although the total will only be known after tests on delivery.
Mashonaland West had the largest wheat area affected by the rain because of some late-planted wheat.
The full extend of the damage will be ascertained as the grain is delivered to GMB where tests are done to determine quality of the crop. Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) secretary-general Mr Paul Zakariya said the late planted wheat was under threat from the current rains and farmers have been urged to speed up harvesting to avoid losses.
Zimbabwe National Farmers Union vice president Mr Edward Dune said so far farmers have harvested the bulk of wheat, with only a small portion having been affected by rains.
“Only small portion is affected by rains, there is not much loss since the bulk of the crop was harvested. It is crucial for farmers to speed up the process of harvesting, but the quality of the crop was already affected,” he said.
Recently, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos urged farmers to scale up harvesting.
In a bid to ensure smooth flow of harvesting, Government has mobilised adequate fuel and 248 combine harvesters to bring the record wheat harvest before the main rains.
Mashonaland West has the highest wheat harvest of 79 301 tonnes, followed by Mashonaland East with 44 932 tonnes and Mashonaland Central with 41 279 tonnes.
In Zimbabwe, wheat is the second most important cereal crop after maize.
Last season, farmers produced wheat that covered nine months’ supply of local demand.