Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
FARMERS have to date delivered over 190 000 tonnes of wheat to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and the Government expects the momentum towards improved production to continue.
Low wheat output has over the years forced Zimbabwe to rely on imports, which drain the scarce foreign exchange resources and contribute to trade deficit.
The country is projected to harvest about 250 000 tonnes of the wheat, enough to cover nine months’ supply and save the country at least US$100 million through import substitution.
Zimbabwe needs at least 400 000 tonnes of wheat annually to meet demand and last season farmers only produced 90 000 tonnes.
The winter wheat segment has performed exceptionally well this time around, according to the Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka.
He told Business Chronicle that wheat deliveries to GMB were on-going and that so far, 190 000 tonnes have been delivered.
“We need to be food secure. We need to be wheat-secure so that we cut on cereal imports and save foreign currency. As you know that the highest ever-produced wheat since the land reform programme was about 164 000 tonnes and last year we achieved 90 000 tonnes. This year we are on course to achieving more tonnes because 190 000 tonnes have been delivered to GMB to date,” said the minister.
Dr Masuka said the Government was impressed to note that the country is slowly regaining its production status. He stressed that the land reform programme beneficiaries must maximise on land utilisation and assist the country to achieve self-sufficient status.
“So, the country is slowly regaining its production status and this is a clear indication that the land reform programme is beginning to bear the fruits. It was and is a worthwhile programme that is benefiting the people and the country,” said Dr Masuka.
Meanwhile, the minister said through the Government’s Agriculture and Food Systems Strategy, the country was geared to end hunger and poverty in line with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“President Mnangagwa came up with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy. This is aimed at making us food secure. He came up with Intwasa/ Pfumvudza. We now have little rains and the holes keep moisture and we also encourage mulching to keep that moisture,” said Dr Masuka.
“The President also realised that January disease is killing a lot of cattle and donated 34 bulls to chiefs in Matabeleland South. That will work hand in hand with artificial insemination,” said Dr Masuka.