Zim in another wheat supply milestone
Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
This year, Zimbabwe will become wheat self-sufficient for the second consecutive year, and now with modest reserves, following the Government’s move to implement the Agriculture Recovery Plan so our bread and flour will be grown by Zimbabwean farmers, rather than millers paying foreigners.
The Government has been targeting increases in wheat production to meet the national requirement in line with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, the Agriculture Recovery Plan and the National Development Strategy 1 and in pursuit of the vision of becoming an empowered and prosperous upper middle income society by 2030. Self-sufficiency means that farm incomes rise.
After last year’s record wheat harvest, another year of gain should see Zimbabwe achieving modest reserves, to cope with any future serious disasters, along with self-sufficiency for the second year running, including the rising demand for flour and bread from consumers as incomes rise.A total of 85 000 hectares have been targeted for winter wheat this year and this is expected to produce 408 000 tonnes of the cereal, well above the 375 000 tonnes of last year, the highest ever recorded since wheat growing started in 1966. On a national requirements of 360 000 tonnes a year, this should produce carry over stocks of around seven weeks and thus security against late planting or harvest delays in future.
Most farmers are optimistic of a bumper wheat harvest because abundant rains make the crop viable.
Tobacco Farmers Union Trust vice president Mr Edward Dune said farmers had so far shown interest in planting wheat this year, adding that if the banks speeded up the process of giving loans to farmers, there was a probability of a bumper harvest.
He said timely disbursements of inputs and good rains so far received were a positive development for wheat production. Farmers are anticipating more than last year’s output, said Mr Dune.
He urged farmers to fully use their land for maximum profits and allow exports, as well as self-sufficiency.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) president, Dr Shadreck Makombe said the country was ready to produce a record harvest following the good rains that have replenished all irrigation dams.
Dr Makombe advised farmers to plant as early as they received the green light for their area from the expert advisors to minimise any clash between their harvesting and the start of the next rainy season.
“Time is very crucial because late planted wheat was seriously affected by rains. Farmers should secure inputs on time as well to ensure that we produce more this season. Yes, a bumper harvest is predicted since we have good rains this season for the production of the crop,” he said.
Wheat farmers said a bumper harvest is ahead of them following the implementation of good agronomic practises.
Mrs Tamari Maruza of Banket said farmers were geared to do winter wheat farming, adding that a good harvest was predicted compared to the previous year following good rains received in most parts of the country.
“We are certain that this year we can break the record again. Most parts received good rains. 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 so that they can fully engage in wheat production,” she said.
Ms Martha Mangirazi of Zvimba in Chitomborwizi said there is a possibility of a bumper harvest following that more water is available in most dams.
“We can do it for the second time. Extension workers are on the ground educating farmers and giving them advice on wheat growing. So far no erratic power cuts have been experienced, dams are full for irrigation purposes. What is left is only our effort to ensure that we achieve best results this season,” she said.
The bumper wheat harvest being expected is a result of the good rains received this season and uninterrupted power supplies.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority indicated before the winter cropping season that it had enough water to irrigate wheat giving farmers hope and confidence to grow the crop. Government encouraged farmers close to water bodies to grow wheat including those with gardens, vleis and irrigation schemes.
This season Government is well prepared in supporting 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 in the winter wheat season as the country aims at maintaining wheat self-sufficiency.
Government has also acquired equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters which will be administered through AFC and CBZ banks.
The wheat crop would 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 at contracting 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 at contracting 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 will contract 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 is targeted for 20 000 ha for wheat, at a projected average yield of 4.8 t/ha, and estimated production is 96 000 tonnes.