Govt to increase wheat production  

©️  VICE President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday said government has partnered with the private sector to increase the country’s winter wheat production to 415 000 metric tonnes against an annual requirement of 400 000 metric tonnes per year.
This comes as Cabinet recently announced new producer prices for 2020 winter crop production, saying that the pre-planting winter wheat producer floor price would be pegged at $11 786 per metric tonne at a margin of 20 percent, assuming a yield of 4 metric per hectare. It also comes as Zimbabwe has in the last year run out of wheat, with bakeries in the country failing to produce bread.
Speaking during a media briefing held in Harare yesterday, Chiwenga said the government had partnered with the private sector to increase wheat production.
“The major challenge in wheat production is not productivity. The actual challenge is the continued reduction in the area under wheat production due to a number of challenges. Among these challenges are water for irrigation and electricity supply, high input cost and late disbursement of funds which results in late distribution of inputs to farmers under the special programme on wheat, maize and soya beans.
“It is against this background that the wheat production programme is targeting to increase the area planted from 24 186 hectares in 2019 to 80 000 hectares for the 2020 winter season,” Chiwenga said.
He added that contract farming financed by commercial banks will target 65 000 hectares while the private sector, under the Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA), is expected to contract growing for 15 000 hectares.
“Based on the target of 5 metric tonnes per hectare, 325 000 metric tonnes is expected from contract growing financed by commercial banks. On the other hand, private sector contracted production is targeting an additional 90 000 metric tonnes at an average yield of 6 metric tonnes per hectare.
“This combined output of 415 000 metric tonnes is expected to surpass our national demand per year by 15 000 metric tonnes,” he said.
Chiwenga further revealed that as the chairperson of the committee on food security and nutrition he had met with all relevant stakeholders including financial institutions to prepare for the commencement of the planting season.
 “Cabinet has already approved and announced a pre-planting wheat producer price of $14 143 metric tonne with a view to enticing farmers to increase the area under wheat. To ensure the price remains attractive for the achievement of this objective, the price shall be reviewed regularly in line with the changes in input prices using a cost-plus 20 percent margin pricing policy,” Chiwenga said.
“Further to the availability of irrigation water, the assurance of an uninterrupted supply of electricity is critical. The ministry of Energy and Power Development and Zesa gave us the necessary assurances that barring major faults, electricity supply will be uninterrupted in wheat farming clusters for the period starting from April to September 2020, and at a tariff which is 55 percent of commercial rates,” he added.


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