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– NewsDay

A BUNDANT water reserves and consistent power supply will boost this year’s winter wheat production. Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe told NewsDay Business that unlike previous years which were characterised by climate change-induced droughts, this season’s good rains have breathed a lease of life to the  wheat farming season.

“Wheat farmers have got access to water and electricity. In terms of electricity, there are clusters. Of course, challenges are here and there, but they are immediately taken care of because information is expeditiously communicated,”

Makombe said.

“As with water we are just coming from good rains. It means it is not a challenge and Zinwa (Zimbabwe National Water Authority) is allocating the quota for every farmer. So, as it stands now water is not a challenge.

“Breakdowns here and there but they are being taken care of. The planting of wheat has stopped and what is happening now is the application of fertiliser.”

Government has outlined an ambitious plan to end wheat imports within two years after rolling out a strategy to harvest 340 000 tonnes of the crop this year, up from 165 000 tonnes achieved last year.

Wheat planting ended on June 15 with a total of 61 801 hectares put under the cereal crop this year.

This is 53% up from last year.

The increase in the wheat hectarage was revealed this week by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement minister Anxious Masuka in a briefing to Cabinet.

“Regarding the winter wheat production season, Cabinet wishes to highlight that a total of 61 801 hectares have so far been planted, a 53% increase from the area planted during the comparative 2020 period,”

Masuka told Cabinet on Tuesday.

“A total of 4 467,9 hectares have been planted under the Presidential wheat scheme, while the command/CBZ Agro-yield scheme has planted 41 935,7 hectares this year, an increase of 25% from the 33 603 hectares planted last year.

“The private sector has contracted 15 397,76 hectares, 3% above the targeted 15 000 hectares.”

Over the years, wheat production had decreased, with figures showing that in 2017 farmers produced 186 200 tonnes which dropped to

160 600 in 2018 before plummeting to about 100 000 tonnes in 2019.

Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Vangelis Peter Haritatos  in April said while millers had argued that locally-grown wheat could be blended with imports to bake quality bread, the bread currently on the market was unblended.

“Our millers are not bringing much imported wheat to blend with the local one. I haven’t heard anyone going to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe saying the quality of our bread is poor. We have maintained the quality of our bread. It is getting better and better,”

he said.

Meanwhile, as of June 21, 2021, total maize delivered to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots across the country stood at 240 204 metric tonnes, significantly up from the 63 916 metric tonnes received last year.

The quantity of soyabeans has similarly increased to 9 858 metric tonnes, versus the 956 metric tonnes delivered during the same period last year.

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