Private sector tackles wheat shortage

Herald Correspondent

The private sector, in response to Government’s call to support and plant a record wheat crop this year, has mobilized the necessary resources to increase support for wheat production.

This is not only expected to improve food security in the country, but save the economy of millions in US dollars spent annually on wheat imports.

The private sector contractors, under the umbrella of the Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA) have fully financed and ensured the planting of 30 000 hectares of wheat, which is 40 percent of national production.

The bulk of these plantings, FCCA said, have been at the optimum time and yields of above 6 tonnes per hectare are expected.

“As a major miller of wheat for the production of bread flour, National Foods, working with PHI and Agrowth, has financed the production of 20,000 hectares, with an expected output of 120,000 tonnes of high-quality wheat,” FCCA said in a statement.

The coming in of private players to help the Government meet its food self-sufficiency targets, is expected to boost confidence among farmers and ensure viability.

The wheat is to be delivered to the country’s largest mills at National Foods Limited in Harare and Bulawayo at harvest, between October and December 2022 and will go a long way to make National Foods self-reliant in local wheat for 2023.

This is in line with Government policy that says all private players in the agriculture sector should be able to produce at least 40 percent of their requirements locally by supporting the local farmer and expanding the value chain.

In 2021, Zimbabwe imported wheat worth US$80.6 million and latest data from Zimstat for the five months to May shows that there has been a 13.26 percent decline in wheat imports to US$23.06 million from US$26,55 million last year. This is despite the significant price uplift pushed by the Russia-Ukraine war, which has seen global prices rise 28 percent as at the same period.

Zimbabwe imports the bulk of its wheat from Eastern Europe, while depending on protein requirements it also buys from SA, Canada and Australia. According to statistics website, Index Mundi, the country is the 102nd largest importer of wheat in the world.  Zimbabwe requires about 400 000 metric tonnes of wheat annually. Last year, the country imported nearly half of that at 175 000 tonnes.

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