Zimbabwe will start exporting wheat in the region this year as the Second Republic’s Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy and other related policies continue to bear fruit.
Currently, the wheat stocks are around 140 000 tonnes and farmers will be harvesting around 420 000 tonnes of wheat from the 86 000 hectares of wheat planted in the country, well above the national requirement and the need for a decent carry-over stock.
Since wheat is 100 percent irrigated, the huge reserves needed for maize and traditional grains to cope with a major drought are not needed for wheat, hence this is likely to be the first grain to be exported.
Last season the country managed to break all the records since the production of wheat started in 1966 where Zimbabwe achieved 375 000 tonnes of wheat last year from 81 000 ha. Speaking during a wheat field day held at Middlepose farm in Makoni district, Permanent Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and rural Development Dr John Basera said the agriculture recovery growth plan had reverses the negative trends in terms of food production in the country.
He said wheat exports should start as soon as possible adding that farmers should employ good agronomic practices to enhance wheat productivity.
“Our plan was to achieve wheat self-sufficiency at all costs. Currently in about three to four months we will start to export wheat in October to November. We need import substitution because we keep saving our hard foreign currency so that we create more jobs because the moment we import container loads of grain or wheat we are exporting container loads of jobs. We are food secure as a country so we need food security first as one of the fundamental start up building blocks for the growth of our economy,” he said.
“Good agronomic practices are the only ways to increase productivity so we need to be targeting to export our first tonne of wheat this year. We are now coming back as the bread basket of Southern Africa,” he said.
Recently, Dr Basera said farmers should take advantage of the wheat markets that are in Mozambique adding that the geopolitical conflicts in the Eastern Europe also taught Africa to look more inward since Russia and Ukraine control 30 percent of the global wheat exports.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution responsible for Manicaland Cde Nokuthula Matsikenyere applauded Manicaland for participating and contributing immensely in food security in farming and horticulture.
“This season we had a target of 10 000 hectares of wheat but we surpassed our target and we have 11 867ha which is quite remarkable. I would like to thank President Mnangagwa for supplying fertilisers and seed for wheat production and other support programmes. What we are geared now is higher yields of the planted crops. Let’s work together and get higher yields in our crops and in preparation for summer,” she said.
Seed Co Zimbabwe head of agronomy services Mrs Wendy Madzura said it is important to employ good agronomic practices to any cropping venture to unlock the value.“When wheat is at the vegetative stage, booting to heading stage, we encourage our framers to employ good agronomic practices by following acronym FINAL which means fertilisation, irrigation, nurturing followed by analysis coupled with love for your crop and environment so in fertiliser management farmers should understand that it contributes to the quality and quantity of the crop.
She said the irrigation schedule should depend on the soil type with sandy soils needing more frequent visits with more water since it loose more water faster than clay soils.Farmers this year are optimistic that a good harvest is ahead of them because of the availability of water and electricity supplies.
Mrs Monica Mukaro of Makoni South in ward 25 indicted that she is looking ahead for harvest.“This season there is a possibility of achieving more, so far no disruptions on electricity, we are irrigating well. So we are still working with agronomists and extension workers so as to increase productivity,” she said. Middlepose farm manager Mr Tatenda Mhuru said this season he is expecting six tonnes per hectare.“We are expecting better yields this season compared to the previous season. We managed to take our soils to testing so we are sure this season we can make it,” he said.
This season Government is well prepared in supporting wheat better than the previous seasons as it is working closely with important stakeholders such as ZESA and ZINWA to ensure that there is uninterrupted power supply as well enough water for irrigation to maintain wheat surpluses.