Courtney Matende, Midlands Reporter
MORE than 2 100 hectares of wheat have so far been planted in the Midlands province under Command Agriculture and private sector initiatives.
Crop and livestock production provincial officer, Mrs Medlinah Magwenzi, said as at the end of last week 1 700 and 400 hectares of land were now under wheat through Command Agriculture and private sector programmes respectively.
“As I speak we have wheat under Command Agriculture and we also have wheat under non-command agriculture.
“Under Command Agriculture the province was contracted 2 000 hectares and up to date we have planted 1 700, meaning we have a deficit of only 300 hectares,” she said.
Mrs Magwenzi said farmers had been given until last Saturday to complete planting for the winter season. She added that most of the crop was at germination stage, while some farmers were still planting.
“Most of the crop is at germination stage while some is being planted.
“You will see that the crop is not growing evenly because of water challenges emanating from low water levels in the dams used for irrigation,” she said.
Mrs Magwenzi said due to poor rainfall received in the 2018-19 season most of the country’s dams have low water levels, with the situation expected to affect yields this winter season.
She said winter wheat planting started late because of shortage of combine harvesters as farmers struggled to remove the old crop.
“We started off slowly because these farmers who grow wheat are the same farmers who are growing our maize and it took long for them to harvest the maize because they didn’t have combine harvesters.
“They had to harvest manually and would clear area by area to plant wheat, hence some of the unevenness you see in the wheat growing right now,” Mrs Magwenzi said.
She, however, said distribution of Command Agriculture fuel, fertiliser and other input to farmers under the scheme was still underway to ensure production is not affected.
“As you know right now fuel is a problem and what Government is doing is to deliver fuel to farmers, especially those who have storage tanks at their premises.
“We have also given them Compound D fertiliser so that they don’t run out,” she said.
In the Midlands province, wheat is primarily grown in Kwekwe, Mvuma and Gweru districts under irrigation.
Government is targeting about 75 000 hectares of wheat this season, as it seeks to increase production and reduce imports.
The country imports about 70 to 75 percent of its wheat requirements.