Fungai Lupande Mashonaland Central Bureau
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday launched the 2020 Command Agriculture winter wheat planting programme at the late national hero Cde Elliot Manyika’s Bindura Farm, with a set national target of 416 000 tonnes.
VP Chiwenga, who chairs the Cabinet Food Security and Nutrition Cluster, expects 80 000 hectares of winter wheat, more than triple last year’s total.
The targets were set according to each province’s capacity and comparative advantages.
VP Chiwenga said 400 000 tonnes of wheat will ensure self-sufficiency.
He urged all provinces to achieve or surpass targets.
Continuous assessment and progress reports will be required every week.
Mashonaland Central will plant 18 000 hectares and produce 93 600 tonnes; Mashonaland West 35 000ha with a target of 182 000 tonnes; Mashonaland East 12 000 hectares with a 62 400 tonnes target; Manicaland 7 000 hectares and an expected 36 400 tonnes yield; Midlands 4 500ha and 23 400 tonnes; Masvingo 800ha and 4 160 tonnes.
Matabelaland South is expected to plant 700ha and produce 2 000 tonnes while Matabeleland North will grow 2 000ha with an estimated harvest of 10 400 tonnes.
VP Chiwenga, who was represented by Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri, said it was crucial for all provinces to strive to maximise their provincial gross domestic products as enunciated by President Mnangagwa in line with the devolution agenda.
“This will be in a spirit of constructive competition within the context of devolution,” he said.
“The 2020 Command Agriculture winter wheat programme is an opportunity for us all to begin practising this. Zesa and Zinwa have undertaken to support the programme by assuring farmers of uninterrupted supply of electricity and water.”
Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube said 2020 was a year of productivity and the country should not continue importing wheat.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has a clear strategy about the entire agriculture sector,” he said. “The ministry is targeting $12 billion worth of value addition.”
The Manyika family, which owns Renabo Estates on the outskirts of Bindura, entered into a partnership with Makata Kurima Investments owned by two brothers, Matt and Peter McCarter. They have already planted 10ha ahead of their 220ha winter wheat target for this season.
Cde Manyika’s widow, Madeline, said her passion to contribute towards food security pushed her to continue farming despite the challenges she faced after the death of her husband in 2008.