Zimbabwe targets another bumper wheat harvest

THE Government plans to put over 90 000 hectares under wheat during this year’s winter season, which could potentially yield another record harvest.

The authorities are targeting a haul of 450 000 tonnes of the cereal, which is about 90 000 tonnes more than local demand.

Assessments are currently being done to ensure there is enough water in the country’s dams for irrigation.

The Government is also mobilising resources such as seed, tractors, fuel and fertilisers.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said: “As you know, we have had two seasons of fabulous and record-breaking production of winter wheat, where we have produced substantial amounts, even surpassing what the country requires.

“Only two countries on the continent have produced enough wheat and we were fortunate to be one of those.

“We are looking at breaking even more records . . . ”

Despite the 2023/2024 summer cropping season being affected by the El Niño weather phenomenon, he said, the authorities were confident there would be sufficient water for irrigation.

The current national dam level average stands at around 84,2 percent, down from 84,4 percent on February 14, 2024.

“We all know that we are in an El Niño season, so things were very tricky this current season, but the only good part of this is that at least our dams are full,” he added.

“So, as we go into the winter season, and we have already started preparations as a ministry to ensure that we have enough inputs . . . We are looking at our dam levels now to see if our targets can be achieved and our hectares can be achieved.

“For now, our target is 90 000 hectares, but once we are finished with assessing our targets in terms of our water usage, then we will be able to publish exactly what we are looking for during the winter season.

“But we are expecting that it will be another record season. We remain optimistic.

“We want to produce enough wheat, not only for Zimbabwe as I mentioned, but also for the region.”

Zimbabwe requires about 360 000 tonnes of wheat annually for domestic consumption.

Experts say several factors, including increased investment and farmer support initiatives, have contributed to Zimbabwe’s bumper wheat harvests in the past two seasons.

The Government has allocated more resources for irrigation infrastructure development, as well as providing subsidised inputs like fertilisers and seeds, and guaranteed producer prices to incentivise farmers.

Extension services have been strengthened to provide training and technical assistance to farmers on improved agronomic practices, pest and disease control, and water management techniques.

In addition, the Government has designated winter wheat as a strategic crop, ensuring it receives preferential treatment in terms of resource allocation and policy focus.

Sunday Mail

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