Wheat production gets boost in Zimbabwe

Wheat farming in Zimbabwe was projected to rebound this winter after government raised US$140 million (R1, 96 billion) to be loaned to farmers to plant 70 000ha to wheat, which was expected to yield 280 000t.

Wheat production gets boost in Zimbabwe

This was announced by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in its Treasury Quarterly Bulletin: January-March 2017, which was recently released during a workshop held in Harare to review the 2016/2017 agriculture season.

According to the Treasury Quarterly Bulletin, the target yield was 5t/ha.

Wheat output had been declining in recent years, as a result of frequent droughts and President Robert Mugabe’s land resettlement exercise, which had displaced many productive farmers.

To stem this decline in production, Mugabe’s government this year initiated the Special Winter Wheat Production programme to boost wheat cultivation.

“Wheat output is set to surpass 280 000t this season, which will a go a long way in reducing imports, thus saving the country’s foreign currency,” said the bulletin.

“This level of wheat production will be a huge leap from the current average planted area of 14 000ha for the past three years, [which is] producing wheat [yields] of around 60 000t [per annum].”

Zimbabwe required 400 000t of wheat every year to meet demand, but with local production far below this requirement, 85% of the outstanding amount had to be imported.

Meanwhile, the area planted to tobacco had improved 7% to 110 000ha during the 2016/2017 summer season, compared with the 2015/2016 plantings.

Output was expected to be around 215 million kilograms, surpassing the 2016 output of 203 million kilograms.

Cotton was also expected to recover this season, after government invested US$36 million (R504 million) to assist 400 000 farmers in growing the crop.

A harvest of 100 000t was anticipated. The local cotton beneficiation industry and government recently unveiled the Cotton to Clothing Strategy that sought to stimulate crop cultivation and the processing of cotton into textiles and garments.

It hoped to improve seed-cotton production from 145 000t to 450 000t by 2019, and boost yield 70% to 1 200kg/ha.