Herald Reporter

Millers and other private businesses who need wheat will be formally involved with Government in financing future wheat production, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Dr Anxious Masuka said yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of the winter wheat harvesting and marketing season, the 2020-2021 summer season preparedness and Ministry restructuring said the partnership will save foreign currency through import substitution.

Zimbabwe is expected to harvest nine months’ supply of wheat from the 2020 winter crop, saving up to US$60 million in imports and only having to import enough to cover the remaining three months supply, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement will introduce summer wheat production starting with the 2021-2022 season to ensure wheat self-sufficiency and cut future imports.

Zimbabwe needs at least 400 000 tonnes of wheat a year to meet its flour demands, a tonnage the ministry is keen to achieve in line with the Government’s Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy.

The ministry is also working on the multiplication of wheat seed in preparation for the 2021-2022 summer wheat cropping season.

“Going into the 2021 season, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture Water and Rural Resettlement shall enter into memoranda of understanding with private value chain players to ensure private value chain financing and participation of the private sector in wheat production as captured in the Agriculture Recovery Plan, which envisages that at least 40 percent of such as grain processors, millers and stock feed manufacturers should secure their agricultural raw materials locally through value chain financing.

“The benefits of this approach are indeed multifarious, including foreign currency savings through import substitution, employment generation, local farmer capacitation and risk reduction,” he said.

Dr Masuka highlighted that farmers can now access inputs for the forthcoming summer cropping season under both the Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme popularly known as Pfumvudza and Command Agriculture or the National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Programme, as it is now called.

“We urge farmers to deliver their maize to the Grain Marketing Board to offset their debts. Only those farmers who have delivered maize to the GMB may be allocated inputs under the Command Agriculture Programme.”

Farmers needed to take advantage of the predicted normal to above normal rain season to ensure agriculture production and productivity are enhanced as the nation lay a firm foundation for food security now and into the future.