Board targets 20 000 hectares of winter wheat
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