Zim poised to surpass wheat planting target Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister Anxious Masuka (in white hat) and Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Marian Chombo are shown a wheat crop at Hunyani Eldorado Farm in Zvimba District this week

Precious Manomano and Walter Nyamukondiwa

Zimbabwe is set to surpass its wheat planting target of 120 000 hectares with almost 119 000 hectares having been achieved by end of day Thursday.

 Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri confirmed the imminent meeting of the target, saying the country had broken successive production records in the last few seasons.

This has gone a long way in consolidating Zimbabwe’s food security.

Yesterday was the deadline for wheat planting and the Government is optimistic that farmers are likely to surpass the target.

In light of drought, the Government has increased irrigation schemes to boost wheat production.

The private sector also played a pivotal role to boost this year’s winter wheat production with Zinwa and Zesa promising uninterrupted power supply and adequate water.

This season the Government was well prepared to support wheat production better than previous seasons as it is working closely with various stakeholders to boost food security.

This year will go down in the history of Zimbabwe as the year in which the country will attain a record-breaking wheat yield of some over 600 000tonnes.

Last season about 468 000tonnes of wheat was produced from a target of 91 000ha far below than 120 000ha that is set to be achieved this season.

Yesterday farmers were working hard to ensure that they meet the target before the deadline expires.

All farmers who have been given inputs were encouraged to plant before the deadline to exceed the national target.

Prof Jiri said he was optimistic that farmers can surpass the target adding that nothing will stop farmers to produce 600 000tonnes following the measures that were implemented to boost this year’s yield.

“No major challenges on power outrages and Zinwa is currently availing enough water which is adequate for the planting season.Farmers are expected to approach their agricultural extension workers for the wheat growing support and agronomic practices in order to produce high yields,” he said.

Speaking during a tour of Hunyani Eldorado Farm in Zvimba District this week, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister Anxious Masuka hailed the joint venture project involving 67 A1 farmers.

“We are very optimistic that by the end of day tomorrow (today) the target would have been met and surpassed,” said the Minister.

“We see that our farmers are organised and they are eager to be part of the Government’s Wheat-based Food Security Programme.”

He said the programme’s success was anchored on provision of adequate and timely support to farmers.

With the country requiring 360 000 tonnes of wheat annually, the balance will be added to the strategic grain reserves.

As of yesterday, the country had 405 000 tonnes in reserve with more than 250 000 tonnes harvested from the last two successive bumper seasons. 

Minister Masuka said the Government had released money to pay all farmers for wheat delivered last season.

To avoid delays in the payment of delivered produce, Minister Masuka said, the Government was ring-fencing the annual Land Levy to cater processing the payments for farmers.

Known as the Crop Purchase Buffer Fund, the collected levies will be used to pay for deliveries.

“We would like to urge all farmers to pay their levies starting this year. 

“The money collected will no longer be sent to the Ministry (Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development) but deposited at the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) Land Bank.”

The money, said Minister Masuka, would be used to pay farmers in case of delays at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

He urged Mashonaland West should rise to its acclaim of being the breadbasket of the country.

Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Marian Chombo said she was optimistic farmers in the province would meet or even surpass the target of 34 000ha.

ARDA, the major contractor, has contracted 60 499ha which is 100percent of their target.

Zimbabwe is optimistic that this year’s winter wheat production will help to boost food security following various interventions put in place by Government and private sector engagement to boost a record harvest.

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

For the past four seasons Zimbabwe and Ethiopia were two countries which were wheat self-sufficient.

The optimum planting dates for wheat are from the last week of April (in lowveld areas) to the end of May.

However, the highest yields are obtained when establishment is done within the first two weeks of May.

 The country will continue to register surplus if all stakeholders play their part,  adequate funding is availed, inputs distributed on time and farmers trained on good agronomic practices.

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