Zimbabwe’s private sector is expecting wheat output to reach 180 000 metric tonnes this year as the country moves towards self-sufficiency.
The projected output is 40% of national requirement.
So far, the contractors have planted more than 30 000 hectares after financial institutions extended loans.
“Given that we have been fully financed on 30,000 hectares of wheat, yields of above six tonnes per hectare are expected,” the Food Crop Contractors Association said.
Private sector has responded well to the government’s call to support and plant wheat as part of efforts to improve food security in the country and save the economy of millions in US$ spent annually on wheat imports.
The coming in of private players to help the government meet its food self-sufficiency targets is expected to boost confidence among farmers and ensure viability.
The wheat will be delivered to the country’s largest mills at National Foods Limited in Harare and Bulawayo at harvest, between October and December 2022 and will go a long way to make National Foods self-reliant in local wheat for 2023.
This is in line with the government policy that says all private players in the agriculture sector should be able to produce at least 40% of their requirements locally by supporting the local farmers and expanding the value chain.
The private sector said contracted farmers were now focusing on maintaining the crop to get high yields.
In 2021, Zimbabwe imported wheat worth US$80.6m and latest data from ZIMSTAT for the five months to May shows that there has been a 13.26% decline in wheat imports to US$23.06m from US$26.55m last year.
This is despite the significant price uplift pushed by the Russia-Ukraine war, which has seen global prices rise 28% as at the same period.
Zimbabwe imports the bulk of its wheat from Eastern Europe, while depending on protein requirements it also buys from South Africa, Canada and Australia.
According to statistics website, Index Mundi, the country is the 102nd largest importer of wheat in the world.
Zimbabwe requires about 400 000 metric tonnes of wheat annually.
Last year, the country imported nearly half of that at 175 000 tonnes.