Zim to ex­pand wheat hec­tarage

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Elita Chik­wati Se­nior Agri­cul­ture Re­porter

ZIM­BABWE is work­ing on in­creas­ing the hec­tarage of wheat from 43 000 to 70 000 to en­sure self-suf­fi­ciency, save for­eign cur­rency and cre­ate more jobs for youths and women.

This was said by Lands, Agri­cul­ture, Wa­ter, Cli­mate and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Min­is­ter Per­rance Shiri in a speech read on his be­half by Deputy Min­is­ter Vangelis Har­i­tatos dur­ing the Tech­nolo­gies for African Agri­cul­tural Trans­for­ma­tion (TAAT) wheat com­pact launch.

The project, which was launched by the Min­istry of Lands in col­lab­o­ra­tion with In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Agri­cul­tural Re­search in Dry Areaas (ICARDA) within the frame­work of the African Devel­op­ment Bank (AfDB) pro­motes the adop­tion of im­proved tech­nolo­gies and best wheat pro­duc­tion man­age­ment prac­tices through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the In­no­va­tion Plat­forms.

The Min­istry’s Depart­ment of Re­search and Spe­cial­ist Ser­vices (DR&SS) is the lo­cal lead in­sti­tu­tion while ICARDA is the im­ple­ment­ing agency.

The wheat com­pact is be­ing im­ple­mented in seven African coun­tries in­clud­ing Zim­babwe.

Min­is­ter Shiri said the coun­try was spend­ing $83 mil­lion in for­eign cur­rency per year in im­port­ing wheat when it could ex­pand do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion over the com­ing years thanks to the abun­dance of wa­ter sources.

“It is phys­i­cally pos­si­ble and eco­nom­i­cally fea­si­ble for Zim­babwe to grow more wheat and trans­form the sec­tor thereby in­creas­ing in­comes for farm­ers and stake­hold­ers, creat­ing jobs for the youth and women and achiev­ing greater wheat self-suf­fi­ciency through do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion by 2025. Zim­babwe has the sec­ond largest amounts of con­served wa­ter re­sources in South­ern Africa.

“Gov­ern­ment through its spe­cial wheat pro­duc­tion pro­gramme for im­port sub­sti­tu­tion (Com­mand Agri­cul­ture) has set a tar­get for un­leash­ing a wheat trans­for­ma­tion by boost­ing do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion as a vi­able so­lu­tion to re­verse the un­sus­tain­able wheat im­ports and for achiev­ing greater wheat self-suf­fi­ciency by 2025,” he said.

Min­is­ter Shiri said in­ter­ven­tions from Com­mand Agri­cul­ture con­trib­uted about 80 per­cent of na­tional wheat de­liv­er­ies.

He said the TAAT project would com­ple­ment Gov­ern­ment ef­forts to in­crease wheat pro­duc­tion, pro­duc­tiv­ity and en­sur­ing wheat self-suf­fi­ciency.

“TAAT project is com­ing soon after an­other suc­cess­ful project ti­tled ‘The Sup­port to Agri­cul­tural Re­search for Devel­op­ment of Strate­gic Crops (SARD-SC) Project, which was suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented in Zim­babwe from the 2014 to 2016 and pro­moted the adop­tion of im­proved tech­nolo­gies and best wheat pro­duc­tion man­age­ment prac­tices through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the in­no­va­tion plat­forms,” he said.

The TAAT pro­gramme in­cludes elim­i­nat­ing ex­treme poverty, end­ing hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion, achiev­ing food suf­fi­ciency, and turn­ing Africa into a net food ex­porter and putting Africa in step with global com­mod­ity and agri­cul­tural value chains.

Min­is­ter Shiri said the TAAT goal was in line with the mis­sion of the min­istry which is aimed at achiev­ing and sus­tain­ing high agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity and pro­duc­tion, mar­ket ac­cess, in­comes as well as food and nutri­tion se­cu­rity.

“Wheat is the sec­ond most im­por­tant agri­cul­tural com­mod­ity in Zim­babwe for food se­cu­rity in terms of quan­tity and calo­ries con­sumed. The de­mand for the crop has been in­creas­ing rapidly due to change in food pref­er­ences, high rate of ur­ban­i­sa­tion and in­crease in in­come.”

The av­er­age wheat pro­duc­tion in the coun­try is 158 000 tonnes against a na­tional re­quire­ment of 400 000 tonnes.

Min­is­ter Shiri ap­plauded the pub­lic and pri­vate re­search in­sti­tu­tions in Zim­babwe for de­vel­op­ing and re­leas­ing high-yield­ing wheat va­ri­eties.

“Zim­babwe has a well-trained cadre of re­search and agri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion spe­cial­ists and a highly en­tre­pre­neur­ial pri­vate sec­tor which if ad­e­quately re­sourced and mo­ti­vated can fast track de­liv­ery of off-the-shelf and ready to use best-bet tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tions and best prac­tices for trans­form­ing the wheat value chain.

“Gov­ern­ment val­ues the part­ner­ship be­tween DR&SS and ICARDA in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the TAAT wheat com­pact, and it is our wish that this re­la­tion­ship is strength­ened since this dove­tails with our na­tional devel­op­ment poli­cies which aim to in­crease food se­cu­rity and nutri­tion and also pro­duc­tiv­ity of all crops. The fi­nan­cial sup­port from the African Devel­op­ment Bank is ac­knowl­edged,” he said.

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