WATCH: Government avails 55 combine harvesters for cluster winter wheat harvesting
Obey Sibanda, [email protected]
GOVERNMENT has availed 55 combine harvesters to be distributed across the country under the Cluster Winter Wheat Harvesting Programme aimed at improving production efficiency while also preparing for a swift shift to summer cropping. The cluster harvesting model entails having a combine harvester deployed to a particular area where it will be used before being shifted to a new site.
Out of the 55 combine harvesters, five have been deployed to Matabeleland region well on time to ensure adequate harvesting as well as reduce any potential losses from delayed harvesting.
The intervention comes at a time when Zimbabwe is targeting to achieve another bumper harvest this year after it increased the total hectarage, building on the milestone achieved last year.
In 2022, Zimbabwe harvested 375 131 metric tonnes of wheat against a national requirement of 360,000 metric tonnes. This year the country is expecting to harvest 420 000 tonnes after planting 90 120 hectares countrywide.
The improved wheat production is already impacting positively on the economy as it has cushioned the country from relying on imports while enhancing domestic industry viability and job retention.
Through the Cluster Winter Wheat harvesting Programme, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development would be leasing out mechanisation equipment to farmers to accelerate harvesting.
This is in response to shortcomings in the past where some wheat farmers delayed planting summer crops due to delays in harvesting their winter crops.
The ministry officially launched the Combine Harvester Programme cluster approach on Wednesday at the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) Jotsholo in Matabeleland North province.
Two combine harvesters have since been deployed to service Matabeleland North province while Matabeleland South will receive three with each harvester expected to cover 500 hectares.
Speaking during the launch in Matabeleland North, the ministry’s Director of Agricultural Mechanisation, Engineer Cleopas Rukuni, said the cluster harvesting model is cost-effective for farmers.
“This has been very effective in terms of cost and improving our work rate. The other thing when you are about to harvest your wheat at your farm there are certain issues that we want a farmer to address so that we facilitate a smooth harvest,” he said.
“The first is that the farmer must make sure that the fields are accessible, and they must have enough fuel to reduce on time,” said Eng Rukuni.
The Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) which is in charge of the financing model said it was targeting to harvest 21 500 hectares, which constitute 25 percent of the total planted wheat.