Nqobile Tshili, Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has called upon companies that use flour in their value chain to invest in wheat farming to boost domestic output and enhance import substitution.
This follows global pressure over commodities supply, including wheat, on the back of the trading disruption induced by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which has stoked a sharp rise in prices of some basic commodities such as bread and fuel.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development chief director, Professor Obert Jiri, said Zimbabwe needs 400 000 tonnes of wheat annually and challenged wheat users to invest towards increasing national output.
“Those who utilise flour; your Lobel’s, Baker’s Inn and so forth, must contribute to the floor that they use.
That is what we said so they came together and formed Food Crop Farmers Association,” he said.
“In this current season for wheat they are producing on 23 000 hectares to feed into their system.
We are really pushing to have wheat and flour self-sufficiency at all costs because where we used to import there is a war.
“The supply chain has been disrupted as a result of that war so we have no option other than to grow our own wheat.”
Prof Jiri, who was speaking during a visit to Sedgemoor Dairy Farm in Somnene area, Bulilima District, for a field day on dairy farming, said farmers must ensure that every little space that is available for irrigation should be utilised for wheat production this year to ensure the country attains flour self-sufficiency.
“We need 400 000 metric tonnes of wheat to be self-sufficient for the year and we need to utilise every area that can be irrigated,” he stated.
Prof Jiri said the Presidential inputs scheme, among other funding projects by private players, were already contributing to improved wheat production.
“We have them pushing to produce 75 000 hectares that we are targeting for this winter season,” he said.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, is on record stressing the need to tackle importation of agricultural products.
“Last year we produced almost a record wheat crop and GMB intake was 210 000 metric tonnes,” said Dr Masuka in a recent interview.
“Currently, the country requires 30 000 metric tonnes of wheat monthly and GMB is supplying 21 000 metric tonnes of wheat to millers and with free funds can import the balance of 9000 metric tonnes.”
Zimbabwe is also working towards creating a grain reserve that will see the country not being affected by what is happening in the global front.
“So clearly, the Government has plans to ensure that we are not only wheat self-sufficient but we also start to build a strategic grain reserve,” said Dr Masuka.