Harare – Farmers had by mid last week delivered 45 000 tonnes of wheat to the Grain Marketing Board, with the parastatal expecting an intake of 250 000 tonnes of the cereal from the 2020 winter cropping season.
GMB has also opened its depots everyday to speed up deliveries and ensure harvests are not affected by early rains.
Zimbabwe is expected to harvest nine months’ supply of wheat from the 2020 winter crop, saving the Government up to US$100 million in imports.
Last season, wheat farmers produced 90 000 tonnes, leaving a deficit of 310 000 tonnes.
GMB chief executive, Mr Rockie Mutenha, last week said they were receiving an average of 3 000 tonnes of wheat per day and grading processes were going on well.
The parastatal was also distributing inputs for the Climate Proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme, also known as Pfumvudza.
“We have so far received 45 000 tonnes of wheat since deliveries started end of September,” said Mr Mutenha.
“We are expecting to receive about 250 000 tonnes of wheat this year.
“At the same time, deliveries of Presidential Inputs are going on well and we hope to have finished by 15 November.”
Farmers have been urged to ensure they deliver wheat with the correct moisture content.
“The acceptable moisture content for the wheat is 12,5 percent, while we accept maize at 13 percent because it goes straight for social welfare and milling,” said Mr Mutenha.
“Wheat only goes for milling into flour and millers accept wheat at 12,5 percent or below.
“We cannot store wheat at moisture content above 12,5 percent as it will contaminate the whole silo through rotting. We encourage farmers to ensure their wheat has the correct moisture content.”
GMB is buying utility or ordinary wheat at $43 778,84 per tonne, while grade A wheat will be paid a premium price of 20 percent above the utility grade at $52 534,61.
Mr Mutenha said GMB was paying farmers within seven days of delivery.
“We thank farmers for the support and co-operation we are receiving from them,” he said.
The country would import wheat to cover the remaining three months supply.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement will introduce summer wheat production starting with the 2021-2022 season to ensure wheat self-sufficiency and cut future imports.
Zimbabwe needs at least 400 000 tonnes of wheat a year to meet its flour demands, a tonnage the ministry is keen to achieve in line with the Government’s Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy.
Wheat farmers have been urged to use the recently acquired combine harvesters to speed up harvesting and protect the crop from the early rains.
Government recently acquired combine harvesters under the US$51 million John Deere programme and the US$51 million Belarus mechanisation facility. – Herald