The wheat condition is generally good, with a bumper harvest expected so that the country will have a surplus of wheat for the second successive year.
The bulk of the early planted wheat is now at grain filling stage whilst the late planted crop is at vegetative stage, but all the wheat is in good condition.
A total of 86 000 hectares have been planted under winter wheat this year and this is expected to produce 420 000 tonnes of the cereal, well above the 375 000 tonnes of last year, the highest ever recorded since wheat growing started in 1966 and the first time ever that national needs were met without imports.
Farmers this season are expected to produce enough wheat to not only meet the annual target of 360 000 tonnes required for domestic demand, but also to have adequate carry-over stocks and start wheat exports.
The Government has been targeting increases in wheat production to meet the national requirement in line with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, the Agriculture Recovery Plan and the National Development Strategy 1 and in pursuit of the vision of becoming an empowered and prosperous upper middle income society by 2030.
After last year’s record wheat harvest, another year of gain should see Zimbabwe achieving modest reserves, to cope with any future serious disasters, along with self-sufficiency for the second year running, including the rising demand for flour and bread from consumers as incomes rise.
Most farmers are optimistic of a bumper wheat harvest because abundant rains which were received will make the crop viable.
Tobacco Farmers Union Trust vice president Mr Edward Dune said timely disbursements of inputs and good rains which were received were a positive development for wheat production.
‘’Farmers are anticipating more than last year’s output. We are looking for a bumper harvest this season,’’ said Mr Dune.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe said a good harvest was expected this season, adding that a lot of irrigation and scouting was needed to enhance the productivity.
“We have enough water so we encourage our farmers to irrigate 33mm of water per week. This season is promising so irrigate wisely and preserve water so that we achieve another bumper wheat harvest,” he said.
A farmer, Mrs Rudo Makoni of Makonde, said veld fires and quelea birds were the only threats in wheat production, adding that if controlling measures were implemented and strengthened, a bumper harvest was likely to be achieved.
“We are happy that so far no serious power cuts are taking place so we appeal for authorities to implement measures that will control veld fires and quelea birds because these are the only menace that we are afraid of,” she said.
Last week, the Government procured nine drones to control infestation of quelea birds in a bid to secure wheat production and the drones were distributed to provinces.
Mr Monica Mukaro of Makoni South in ward 25 said she was looking ahead for a bumper harvest.
“This season there is a possibility of achieving more, so far no disruptions on electricity, we are irrigating well. So we are still working with agronomists and extension workers so as to increase productivity,” she said.
Regarding wheat, the country’s stocks stand at 140 029 tonnes, which are sufficient to provide eight months’ cover, and the monthly allocation stands at 21 000 tonnes.
The bulk of the planted wheat or 69,8 percent is by resettled farmers (A1 and A2), while the communal farmers contributed 6,95 percent, this reflects another key milestone in the agricultural sector.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera recently indicated that good agronomic practices are the only ways to unlock the massive potential so that the country achieve five tonnes per hectare, adding that this is still against national requirement of 360 000 and a surplus of about 70 000 tonnes.
Seed Co Zimbabwe head of agronomy services Mrs Wendy Madzura said it was important to employ good agronomic practices to any cropping venture to unlock the value.
She said the irrigation schedule should depend on the soil type, adding that sandy soils required more frequent visits with more water since they lose more water faster than clay soils.
Farmers this year are optimistic that a good harvest is ahead of them because of the availability of water and electricity supplies.
This season Government is well prepared in supporting wheat better than the previous seasons as it is working closely with important stakeholders such as ZESA and ZINWA to ensure that there is uninterrupted power supply, as well as enough water for irrigation.