Board tar­gets 20 000 hectares of win­ter wheat

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Busi­ness Reporter

THE Zim­babwe Wheat Board is tar­get­ing to put 20 000 hectares un­der win­ter wheat next year through con­tract farm­ing as part of ef­forts to resuscitate pro­duc­tion of the crop.

At its peak, wheat pro­duc­tion in Zim­babwe stood at 325 000 tonnes in 2001 but the crop’s first steep de­cline oc­curred in 2002 af­ter the Land Re­form Pro­gramme when out­put halved to 150 000 tonnes.

Last year, Zim­babwe pro­duced about 10 000 tonnes of wheat.

The Zim­babwe Wheat Board pres­i­dent, Mr Give­more Me­soemvura, who is also the pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Bak­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Zim­babwe, said so far about 6 000ha of land have been se­cured in the Eastern Lowveld for con­tract win­ter wheat.

“Of the 20 000ha of land that we are tar­get­ing to put un­der win­ter wheat next year, we have so far se­cured 6 000ha from farm­ers in Chipan­gayi who have agreed to go into con­tract farm­ing with us next year,” he said.

“We have set a tar­get of re­viv­ing wheat pro­duc­tion in the coun­try through con­tract farm­ing ar­range­ments so that the com­mod­ity is lo­cally pro­duced.”

In 2013, wheat pro­duc­tion is es­ti­mated by the Gov­ern­ment to have de­clined to 24 700 tonnes from 33 700 tonnes the pre­vi­ous year.

The de­cline was mainly at­trib­uted to a slump in the area planted from 11 600ha in 2012 to about 8 500ha the fol­low­ing year as farm­ers switched to cash crops such as to­bacco, whose prof­its per hectare are much higher.

Mr Me­soemvura said next week the Zim­babwe Wheat Board would be in Mashona­land Cen­tral and Mashona­land West prov­inces where it would en­gage the farm­ers for con­tract farm­ing.

The big­gest chal­lenge that farm­ers face in win­ter wheat pro­duc­tion is the cost as well as er­ratic power sup­plies for ir­ri­ga­tion.

Due to low wheat out­put lev­els in re­cent years, the coun­try has largely re­lied on im­ported wheat with about $200 mil­lion worth of flour re­quired ev­ery month to meet na­tional bread de­mand. — @okazunga

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