The Gweru City Council says 200 hectares would be put under winter wheat at its Go Beer Farm as part of efforts to widen revenue base by reviving farming and manufacturing activities.
The local authority has so far invested over US$12 000 in farming equipment support to support the business. Go Beer farms are part of three business entities that were formed following the unbundling of Go Beer Breweries.
The strategic business units are Go Beer Farming (Pvt) Limited, Progress Properties (Pvt) Limited and Progress Manufacturing (Pvt) Ltd. Some of these business units are still to operationalise.
The beer unit ceased operations in 2014 after it had become a financial burden as it was accumulating huge debts, which became a distress to the local authority. Go Beer beerhalls were subsequently rented out and are contributing revenue through rentals.
In an interview, council spokesperson Ms Vimbai Chingwaramuse, said they wanted to take farming seriously as a way of improving cash inflows.
“As Gweru City Council we have set a target of putting 200ha under winter wheat at our Go-Beer Farm. This is expected to increase revenue inflows as we are looking at other ways of making money for the council other than waiting upon residents to pay the bills,” she said.
Ms Chingwaramuse said the local authority has purchased farming equipment to be used for the project adding that planting is expected to be completed by June 23.
“Purchased already is a disc harrow at US$8 280, viacon spreader US$1 400 and boom sprayer for US$4 825. We hope that this initiative will assist us improve our revenue inflows,” she said. “We are looking at putting more land under maize once we are done with winter wheat.”
Ms Chingwaramuse said there were 17 permanent and 11 casual employees at the Go Beer Farms. The Midlands province has set a target of planting 11 000ha under winter wheat and barley this year, which will be divided into two schemes.
This year’s winter cropping will be rolled out under the agro-yield Government programme on irrigation schemes and the Presidential winter wheat scheme.
Midlands Agritex provincial crop and livestock officer, Mrs Medlinah Magwenzi, has said the province was keen to take advantage of the abundant water resource in dams to open up more land on winter wheat and barley.
There have been calls for local authorities to venture into other sources of income rather than depending heavily on rates, charges and rentals from residents who are already overburdened.
Those in minerals resource rich provinces should likewise interest themselves in mining, while those in good rainfall areas should invest in farming.