Zim in prime spot to export excess wheat

Government support to wheat farmers, in the quest for national food security, has over the last two years seen the country achieving record output of the strategically key grain (File Picture)
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HARARE – Zimbabwe may export about 60 000 tonnes of excess wheat stocks next year amid another anticipated bumper harvest of the grain this year, which is expected to leave the country with more than it requires for domestic consumption.

According to a report by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Zimbabwe expects to realise 420 000 tonnes from the winter crop.

“The country planted 90 000 hectares of wheat in the current winter cropping season from which we expect 420 000 tonnes of wheat, which is about 60 000 more than the national requirement.

“Because of the targeted harvest, the country will be self-sufficient for a second year running and we will be able to export wheat to our sister countries in Africa,” the report read.

Agronomist Anderson Magura believes the projections represent the true reflection of the country’s achievements in agriculture in recent years, especially the production of key grains namely wheat and maize, among other major crops.

“The projections are not far off from what we have also gathered, and this is testament to the success of the agriculture policy that has been driven by the Second Republic as a way to food self-sufficiency,” he said.

Paul Zakariya, executive director of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU), told The Herald’s sister television station ZTN’s The Mint programme that the agriculture sector benefited from good rains and good planning procedures.

“When you look at those results, there are things you need to really appreciate, compared to the previous seasons, there has been consistent planning, commitment, consultation and also commitment of resources. Resources have been put in place and targeting of farming areas has been increased as well as extension (services) have been beefed up as they have been retrained and equipped. Our season was a good season with farmers having inputs way before time except those self-financing farmers,” he said.

Analyst Namatai Maeresera said the need to sustain self-sufficiency is important if we are to look at global events in the past 12 to 18 months.

“It has been stressed enough about the importance of being self-sufficient as we are coming on the back of serious geopolitical issues and conflicts that have caused food prices to increase. If we did not put any plan in place, we would be feeling the pinch in reduced food aid across the world so it is good to produce for ourselves,” Mr Maeresera said.

ZCFU is participating as an organisation in the steering committee that is looking to enhance irrigation in the country.

According to Mr Zakariya, all the irrigation schemes that had stopped working for various reasons are or have been refurbished. In addition, new irrigation schemes are coming up.

“A lot of investment is going into own farm irrigation development, and many commercial farmers are adopting that as a way to climate-proof their production and making sure they can produce even outside the rain season,” he said.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) chief executive officer Sam Miller said they have seen a huge increase in terms of irrigation going up to about 220 000 hectares that are now operational, and put to good use.

“This is one of the reasons why we see an increase in wheat production as it is an irrigated crop. So, there has been a shift in the right direction in terms of increasing the capacity to irrigate as climate-proofing,” he said.

The CFU president also stressed the need for the country to continue investing in climate-proof agriculture for sustainable food production.

“We need to be very serious about what is happening around us environmentally, and climate change is a real scourge and if you look at the projections, by 2050 if we do not do anything there is going to be a crisis, particularly in the southern African region,” Mr Miller added.

The country needs to take climate proofing seriously as projections say by 2050 the region will see much reduced rainfall leaving it a net exporter of food. – Herald