Zim records 468 000t wheat harvest
The successful land reform paid dividends to wheat farmers this season following the attainment of a resounding record wheat harvest of 467 905 tonnes compared to 375 000 tonnes last season with farmers praising Government’s fruitful intervention programmes that led to another record harvest.
This is the largest harvest since growing of wheat started in 1966 with the harvests last year and this year the first time Zimbabwe achieved self-sufficiency and then a surplus in wheat.
Land reform, which gave a lot of farmers access to land, has been matched with the agriculture and food systems transformation strategy which ensures they can use that land effectively to increase production.
Zimbabwe is moving ahead on several fronts to ensure that the land reform becomes a resounding success by making sure farmers have the inputs and backing to push production to new heights, far higher than what was produced.
Interventions by the Government ensured that farmers had access to financial services and inputs were distributed on time.
This season the Government was well prepared in supporting wheat better than the previous seasons as it was working closely with important stakeholders such as Zesa and Zinwa to ensure that there was uninterrupted power supply as well as enough water for irrigation to expand wheat into a significant surplus.
Zimbabwe is one of the two African countries, the other being Ethiopia, which are wheat self-sufficient and has been food secure on cereals for the past four seasons after the Government took deliberate steps to ramp up agricultural production
Statistics from Agricultural Rural Advisory Services indicate that farmers have finished wheat harvesting and Mashonaland West was leading with more than 138 000 tonnes produced at an average of 4,8 tonnes per hectare.
This was followed by Mashonaland East with 86 187 tonnes produced at 5.1 tonnes per hectare followed by Mashonaland Central with 85 541 tonnes produced at 5,3 tonnes per hectare.
Midlands produced 64 364 tonnes at an average yield of 6,4 tonnes per hectare, Manicaland produced 60 797 tonnes at an average yield of 5,5 tonnes per hectare. Matabeleland South produced 24 231 tonnes at an average yield of 5,3 tonnes per hectare and Masvingo province produced 8 692 tonnes at an average of 3,1 tonnes per hectare.
This year’s wheat was grown on 90 186ha compared to 81 000ha last season.
This year’s harvest is more than the national requirement of 360 000 tonnes to meet the domestic demand, thus ensuring self-sufficiency with a modest carryover stock and opening doors to exports.
To date the country holds a national stock of around 140 000 tonnes with other stocks already with the millers and some farmers still delivering.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri said the next need was to open up industries and do value addition and beneficiation.
“Yes we now have plenty of wheat on the ground. We applaud our farmers for working hard, but at the same time we want to continue working hard to ensure that our country becomes food secure. I want to encourage farmers to open up industries and do bakeries instead of centralising wheat at one place. The results are good and we are sure farmers will also perform higher than this in the next season,’’ he said.
Farmers say the record harvest crop was possible this year following good intervention programmes by the Government.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe said farmers were well capacitated this season to perform better than the previous years adding that this is a sign of growth in agriculture.
“The attainment of such large volumes of wheat is a good signal of growth in our industry and farmers’ commitment towards farming. Food security is guaranteed and people’s livelihoods and standards of living will be uplifted. Extension workers were on the ground assisting farmers with good agronomic practices to enhance productivity.
“We are proud that farmers have managed to surpass the previous record. This is all about commitment and we expect this to happen the next season. We appeal to the Government to pay farmers on time so that they fully embark on the other productions,’’ he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union secretary-general Mr Paul Zakariya said the results means that the country is now wheat secure adding that there is a need to maintain that trajectory to allow the country to export the cereals.
“If we maintain this standard, we generate foreign currency and further generate wheat production industries. This means there will be no reason for importing wheat. Proper planning is therefore needed to maintain this standard.
“Farmers this season get inputs on time and financial services were also supportive. Off takers should be resourceful because delayed payments will affect farming. Farmers take farming as a business hence they should be productive in order to continue operating,’’ he said.
Recently 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 the Government to ensure that farmers grow enough wheat.
“We had enough water for irrigation and electricity. We are aiming higher than last season”.
Zimbabwe National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Mrs Monica Chinamasa indicated that farmers this year had worked very hard adding that the effort is greatly appreciated.
“This is greatly appreciated, but we appeal for our Government to pay wheat farmers on time so that they embark fully on the summer crop production. If farmers are paid on time it will be easier to pay back loans but now we are failing to pay back loans and interests are also going up,’’ she said.
Wheat production has increased remarkably on the back of revamped irrigation schemes and mechanisms with farming implements brought into the country duty free as the Government ensured the sector regained its position as a vital cog of the national economy.