Zim achieves highest winter wheat hectarage Fisheries and Aquaculture Resource Department (FARD) director in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Mr Milton Makumbe said Government was targeting to stock all dams under the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) with sexed fingerlings.- File picture.

Precious Manomano Herald Reporter

A RECORD wheat harvest is expected this year after the country put 86 000 hectares under the crop, the highest hectarage since wheat growing started in 1966.

This year’s winter wheat target was 90 000 hectares compared to 80 000 hectares last year giving the nation hope of attaining a higher yield than last year’s record harvest.

This is expected to produce  420 000 tonnes of the cereal well above the 375 000 tonnes achieved last year and the minimum of 360 000 tonnes needed for self-sufficiency.

Speaking at Chibero Agricultural College during a field day last Friday, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary, Dr John Basera, applauded wheat farmers for doing well this season adding that this record hectarage was greatly appreciated.

“We managed to achieve 86 000ha of wheat and this is the first time in history of wheat production in Zimbabwe. That is the information l have so far. Since farmers started to grow wheat, we beat all records. This season we will produce better than last year. We have done it and we will do it again in the next season,” he said.

The wheat planting deadline was extended to 15 June this year and planting wheat after the deadline is not recommended as yields will be compromised by early rains.

Farmers have been advised to work with extension workers on important agronomic practices to boost yields.

Zimbabwe Commercial farmers Union president, Dr Shadreck Makombe, said this year they were expecting a bumper wheat harvest following good rains received this season.

He urged farmers to work hand in glove with  experts to boost production levels.

“We have no doubt that farmers can achieve more than last year’s harvest. We are looking forward to a good production level.

“Farmers should adhere to planting dates as a key component in realising the expected yields as the nation pushes to attain wheat self-sufficiency,” he said. Dr Makombe also urged farmers to work on fireguards to protect the crop from veld fires.

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo said this season was the best time to attain wheat self-sufficiency following various measures implemented by Government to ensure that farmers grow enough wheat.

She said if the Grain Marketing Board facilitated payments to maize farmers on time, wheat production would be easily managed, as farmers could then continually recycle their capital to fully engage in wheat production.

“We have enough water for irrigation. We have been assured of enough electricity. We are aiming higher than last season. We hope this time rains will not affect our crop”.

Mr Emmanuel Mabhiza of Chitomborwizi in Mashonaland West said it was crucial to plant wheat early.

“Last year, the late planted crop was affected by the early rains. Farmers should learn from the previous season. We cannot continue repeating the same mistake.

“Let’s save our crop by planting it early as recommended by the experts. It is very painful to lose the crop which you spent a lot of money on,” he said.

Ms Tamari Muchemwa of Karoi said although it was recommended to plant early, farmers faced difficulties in following the initiative since harvesting of maize and other crops was currently underway.

“Usually farmers clear off harvesting the crop which is in the fields to create space to grow wheat. This is a long process hence farmers usually find it difficult to beat the deadline. There is nothing we can do. This is a very critical period of harvesting and planting at the same time. Very few farmers can afford to do what is recommended,” she said.

This season, Government is well prepared to support wheat better than the previous seasons as it is working closely with important stakeholders such as ZESA and ZINWA to ensure that there is uninterrupted power supply as well as enough water for irrigation.

Government has also acquired equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters which will be administered through AFC and CBZ banks.

The wheat crop will be supported through private contractors, Government’s National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS), Presidential Wheat Support Scheme and self-financed growers.

CBZ Agro-Yield is targeting to contract 20 000ha at a projected average yield of 4,8 tonnes/ha, with the estimated production set at 96 000 tonnes.

The AFC Land Bank is targeting to contract 15 000ha with a projected yield of 4,8 t/ha and the estimated production is 72 000 tonnes.

The private sector and self -financed scheme contracted 25 0000ha of wheat with a projected average yield of 4.8t/ha to give an estimated production of 120 000 tonnes while the Presidential scheme targeted 25 000ha for wheat, at a projected average yield of 4.8 t/ha, and estimated production is 96 000 tonnes.

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