New entrants contribute to increased wheat harvest

Phillipa Jaja

Government initiatives have been commended for helping new entrants contribute greatly to the winter cropharvest which has resulted in an increase of 30 000 tonnes from last year.

Zimbabwe currently has wheat reserves to last the country for the next 13 months. This was confirmed by Zimbabwe Integrated Commercial Farmers Union (ZIFCU) president, Mrs Mwayiwepi Jiti in an interview.

“We applaud both the government and the private sector for resuscitation and funding of irrigation schemes and inputs schemes in line with the President’s vision of Upper to middle class economy by 2030 … Usually farmers produced about 320 000 tonnes of wheat per season and this has vastly improved to over 350 000 tonnes in the 2022 harvest even season.”

She noted that small scale and rural farmers contributed to a substantial increase on total gross of national yield amid global wheat shortages which might result in the country not importing or importing very little in future.

“Small scale and rural farmers joined the commercial farmers who used to be the main wheat producers in the country on the production of wheat.

Commercial Farmers would plant wheat usually after tobacco then wheat and then maize using the zero tillage to increase soil fertility for the following tobacco crop again.”

Mrs Jiti bemoaned the carnage of veld fires as it had “destroyed part of the total harvest.”

A local publication recently revealed that almost US$1 million worth of Zimbabwe’s winter wheat crop had been destroyed by veld fires countrywide this season.

However, the expected surplus will allow Zimbabwe to reach a goal of building a small strategic reserve of wheat for the first time in the history of the country, which first began planting wheat in 1962.

Zimbabwe has historically been reliant on imports to meet domestic demand as wheat is the country’s second-most important crop after corn.

According to the United Nations, African nations imported 44% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020. Prices have shot up 45% since the start of the war, the African Development Bank has noted.

The UN says nearly 8 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs has been exported worldwide through the initiative, with corn and wheat accounting for 72% of the shipments, and sunflower oil another 7%. Nearly 20% of the 2.35 million tonnes of wheat exports have gone to less-developed countries.

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