Government is expecting this winter wheat output to increase by 16% to 384 000 metric tonnes from last year’s haul on the back of an increase in land put under the cereal crop, an official has said.
Last year, 330 000 metric tonnes were realised.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister Anxious Masuka said the winter wheat season has shown that by “working collectively and collaboratively we can achieve self-sufficiency”.
“An unprecedented 80 000ha have been put under wheat with an expected harvest of over 384 000MT, the highest in the history of the country,” Masuka said.
Of this, the private sector is expecting a 50% surge in wheat output to 120 000MT this winter wheat selling season from 80 000MT harvested last year, he said.
“We expect an increase in output to 120 000 tonnes in 2022 from 80 000 tonnes last year due to an increase in hectarage and support from the banks,” National Wheat Contract Farming Committee vice chairperson, Graeme Murdoch, told Business Times.
He said the private sector, responded positively to the government’s call to support and planted a record wheat crop in 2022 in an effort to improve food security in the country and save the economy of millions of United States dollars 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 miller 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 the latest data from ZIMSTATS 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.
Zimbabwe requires 360 000 tonnes of wheat each year, mainly for flour, bread and biscuits.
This will be the first time since 2005 to achieve that feat.
Despite that achievement, the country will still import various tonnes of wheat to blend the local and the imported wheat to bake standard bread.
Local wheat is good for biscuits and self-raising flour as it did not experience very cold conditions, which are needed to bake bread.
Wheat deliveries to GMB have started.
The government announced a US$620 producer price where farmers will be paid US$200 in cash and the rest will be paid in RTGS at the prevailing bank rate.