Zimbabwe breaks records on wheat harvest

Combine harvesters from Belarus harvesting wheat in Zimbabwe
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ZIMBABWE has achieved a record wheat harvest as farmers had delivered 326 687 tonnes to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as of Friday morning, representing close to 90 percent of the projected output of 380 000 tonnes.

This is the highest-ever output of the crop since commercial production began in the 1960s. Before this year’s milestone, record deliveries stood at 325 000 tonnes realised in 1990. More deliveries are expected, as most of the outstanding cereal is held by farmers due to moisture content, according to the authorities. Zimbabwe this year put a record 80 885 hectares under the crop to ensure wheat self-sufficiency. The move was also aimed at bolstering the country’s food security and eliminate dependence on imports.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos told The Sunday Mail that Government is optimistic of achieving the set target of 380 000 tonnes.

“After some assessments, we project that we should get at least 380 000 tonnes of the cereal, which is 20 000 tonnes more than the national requirement. The preparations had been so good and it seems we have managed to achieve our goal. What is left are the final actual statistics, but it all points to a remarkable season,” he said.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr John Basera, said even though there were some losses experienced due to veld fires and early rains, the country’s targets were not affected.

“This had little impact on our average output. We are still there and the data from our technical teams show that we are achieving our targets,” he said.

Last week, Cabinet indicated that 3 980 hectares had been damaged by rains, with the largest hectarage of 3 225 being in Mashonaland West province. Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services chief director Professor Obert Jiri said Government programmes that include the Presidential Winter Wheat Scheme, the Agro-Yield Initiative and the Belarus Farm Mechanisation Scheme made the target achievable.

“As of November 25, wheat delivered to GMB depots stood at 326 687 tonnes, almost 89 percent (of the target). Harvesting is still going on but our farmers are facing challenges to deliver the grain to GMB due to transport logistics, challenges of high moisture content due to the rains and late payments of initial deliveries,” said Prof Jiri.

In addition to Government-backed schemes, private players are also contributing significantly to the target, as they planted the crop on 25 000 hectares.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said: “2022 is promising to be the best year for the good quantity and quality of wheat. What I can say is Zimbabwe is bound to cut the wheat import bill. This is import substitution at play here.” – Sunday Mail