Lovemore Zigara, Midlands Bureau
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa says Zimbabwe is poised for a good winter wheat harvest given the increased hectarage planted this season.
The minister attributed the increased hectarage to Government’s mechanisation and input support programme.
“What I found is a miracle which is taking place on the economy. If one is flying one can see vast tracts of wheat under irrigation and this is Command Agriculture,” said Minister Chinamasa recently.
“What you may need to know is that we have never planted such a big hectarage as we did this season.
“It’s very impressive — we are not there yet but it shows you where we should go and we can do it.”
The Government has projected winter wheat production this year to reach more than 200 000 tonnes from about 60 000 tonnes last season.
There has been a tremendous surge in private sector participation in wheat production this year which has complemented the Command Agriculture scheme.
The banking sector alone has offered to fund this year’s farming season to the tune of $1.1 billion.
High costs of production, cheaper imports, funding issues, dilapidated irrigation infrastructure and high cost of electricity have been cited as some of the challenges affecting production.
In its bid to stimulate local wheat production, the Government removed wheat flour imports, from the Open General Import Licence under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016.
Under the special import substitution scheme to fund wheat production, inputs such as wheat seed, fertilisers, chemicals and tillage services for producers with irrigation facilities were provided.
The country consumes between 400 000 tonnes and 450 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
At its peak, wheat production in Zimbabwe stood at 325 000 tonnes in 2001 but the crop’s first steep decline occurred in 2002 when output nosedived to 150 000 tonnes.