Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu has said Zimbabwe is losing $100 million annually to wheat imports due to failure by farmers to produce enough stocks.
Officiating at an exhibition gala organised by the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) in Bulawayo recently, Ndlovu commended millers for venturing into contract wheat farming.
“The country is spending close to $100 million in wheat imports annually to cater for this deficit,” he said.
“A study in 2003 on the bad price indicated that there was a huge deficit in terms of wheat production compared to the nation’s annual consumption, where seven months’ wheat supply was to be met through imports, 16 years down the line we are still faced with the same challenges, if not worse.”
Since 2000, Zimbabwe has failed to produce 400 000 metric tonnes of wheat it needs per year. Authorities cite sanctions imposed by the West on its top brass at the turn of the millennium on allegations of misrule and human rights abuse.
Ndlovu said GMAZ’s initiative would reduce government expenditure.
“Command agriculture has shown that as a country we have the capacity to solve our pertinent problems,” he said.
“I, thus, applaud GMAZ for this initiative which will undoubtedly address the challenge we face.
“This is commendable in that it is purely a private sector initiative and I am a firm believer of locally-generated solutions to the problems we encounter in the nation.
“I wish to encourage GMAZ as well to consider mobilising inputs, farming machinery, promoting and expanding grain farming in the country in all suitable farming districts of Zimbabwe.
“It is also my expectation that the sector can design and promote and support agro extension services for contracted farmers and also to negotiate with government and farmers’ unions on producer prices and subsidies.”
Ndlovu said the milling industry had helped the country secure enough grain during drought periods.
Recently, the Tafadzwa Musarara- led National Wheat Contract Farming Committee was appointed to spearhead the winter wheat contract farming with the target to produce a minimum of 150 000 tonnes annually for the next three years.