Government is pushing for the manufacturing of the post-harvest implements like shellers and dryers in an effort to fast-track grain deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Given the estimated output of over 3.1m metric tonnes against a national requirement of 2.2m for livestock and human consumption, the government is moving to evaluate the number of tonnes that will come to GMB as a strategic grain reserve.
This will give the monetary authorities time to plan on the possible importation of grain if farmers do not deliver meaningful tonnage to the silos.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement minister Anxious Masuka told Business Times that there is a need for the country to start manufacturing its own implements to save forex.
“The government is facilitating the local manufacturing and acquisition of post-production processing implements such as shellers, dehullers and dryers especially for traditional grains,” Masuka said.
He said the move will help the whole agriculture value chain and create employment for the sector’s downstream industry.
Government will also promote value addition at farmer level by supporting farmers with machinery for different products such as mealie meal, peanut butter, cooking oil and popcorn.
Masuka said this will technically capacitate the smallholder farming sector particularly the communal sector (being the largest contributor to national cereal production), in terms of knowledge, skills and financial support in order to adopt farming as a business leading to increased productivity and off-take in livestock.
Of the 2.71m tonnes the communal sector contributed over 1m tonnes of that output hence the government saw the need to empower the sector with the post-production processing implements to improve their livelihoods and help them earn extra income.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe said the capacitation of farmers will help them to improve production on their farms as they will also seed the money back to the field.
“Farmers are in dire need of capital hence if they have the shellers or any other post-production processing implements as they will get the returns from charging other farmers on various post-harvesting processes. They will buy inputs and invest into the land to produce more food in the coming seasons.
“Therefore, farmers will self-finance themselves and leave contract farming as they will have the financial muscle to fund themselves,” Makombe said.
During the just ended summer cropping season, the country attained the best yield in more than a decade due to conservative programmes, good farming practices and good rains.
Masuka said timely availability of some inputs and capacitation of extension service delivery contributed to increased yields this season.
This coming season the government is planning to extend the pfumvudza programme to many farmers and various crops to contain the self-sufficiency streak.
If the government could have a surplus of over 800,000 tonnes, it will save the country over US$500m on maize imports.