Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S wheat stocks stand at 79 820 tonnes and are sufficient to sustain the country until the next harvest next month.
Farmers have put 66 435 hectares under winter wheat this year, with the hectarage planted being the third highest since independence and 50 percent more than that of last year, giving hope that the country will hit self-sufficiency or get closer.
In a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said: “The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement (Dr Anxious Masuka), updated Cabinet on the 2021 winter wheat production and maize marketing season.
“The nation is advised that of the 85 000 hectares that had been planned for wheat, 66 435 hectares were planted for the Presidential, National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS)/Command/CBZ Agro-Yield and Private Sector schemes.”
She said the planted hectarage is about 78 percent of the target area and 50 percent above last year.
“The area planted of 66 435ha is the third highest since independence and is only surpassed by plantings in 2004 (70 585 ha) and 2005 (67 261 ha).
“Wheat stocks were 79 820 tonnes for week ending 2 August, 2021 and is sufficient until the next harvest which is expected to commence in September,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
In the Mid-Term Budget Review Statement, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube presented last week, Treasury projects that this year’s winter wheat output will be at 280 000 tonnes, 32 percent up from the 212 000 tonnes produced last year.
Wheat yield is also expected to be enhanced by timeous provision of inputs and the projected higher yield is on account of adequate water availability, with average dam levels reported at 95,9 percent of capacity by May this year.
Zimbabwe needs between 350 000 and 450 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
Due to production challenges the country has faced over the years, the country has been importing wheat to cover the deficit.
Government targets to increase wheat production to meet national requirements in line with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, the Agriculture Recovery Plan and the National Development Strategy 1 and in pursuit of vision 2030.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had also been briefed that 629 007 tonnes of maize, 11 381 tonnes of soya bean and 64 798 tonnes of traditional grains have since been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as of Monday this week.
“All grain (wheat, maize, traditional grains and soya beans) delivered to date is valued at $23,2 billion of which $14,4 billion has been paid to farmers, giving an outstanding balance of $9,4 billion.
“All efforts are being made to ensure that the backlog is cleared,” she said.
On tobacco marketing, cumulative sales were 199,6 million kilogrammes valued at US$555 million, compared to the 176 million kilogrammes valued at US$440 million that were sold during the same period last year.
“The prices paid were 26,1 percent firmer than the previous year due to improved quality offerings by farmers.
“On exports, 76 million kilogrammes valued at US$295,5 million have been exported compared to the 83 million kilogrammes valued at US$273 million exported during the similar period the previous year.”
On seed cotton intake, Minister Mutsvangwa said a total of 82 189 tonnes valued at $4,6 billion have been received at the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) depots across the country.
“This intake has surpassed the 2020 figure despite being 55 percent of the targeted deliveries.
“Cottco has paid $690,9 billion and US$1,3 million to farmers,” she said. — @okazunga