Ministry sets maize target at 2,8m hectares

Source: Ministry sets maize target at 2,8m hectares | The Herald

Ministry sets maize target at 2,8m hectares
Dr Masuka

Agriculture Reporter 

Government has set a target of 2,8 million hectares of maize and traditional grains for the 2021/22 summer cropping season. 

This is meant to sustainably increase crop production and productivity to meet and surpass the national requirements for both human consumption and industrial use. 

According to the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement update on the state of preparedness for the 2021/22 season, two million hectares will be put under maize. 

This is an increase from the 1 951 848 hectares that were put under maize last season. The two million hectares are expected to give a national output of 3,6 million tonnes of maize during the 2021/22 season. 

Last season farmers produced 2 717 171 tonnes against a national requirement of 2,2 million tonnes of maize. For traditional grains, Government has set a target hectarage of 500 000 for sorghum, an increase from last season’s 364 880ha. 

Farmers are also expected to plant 250 000 pearl millet and 50 000 hectares of finger millet. 

Last season 216 389 hectares were put under pearl millet while 24 962 hectares were put under finger millet. 

The 2021/22 season state of preparedness update states that the summer programme objective target is to increase crop production and productivity through the implementation of the key tenets of the Agriculture Recovery Plan. 

The plan is anchored on conservation agriculture principles to climate proof the Presidential Input Scheme; provision of inputs; constant supply of key utilities such as power and fuel to farmers and crowding-in the private and financial services sectors. 

The update also emphasises on the need for farmers to access appropriate finance for inputs and working capital; continuous support of targeted farmers with irrigation and mechanisation services to improve efficiencies and climate proofing and capacitating the extension and advisory services delivery system to enhance farmer’s production and productivity needs among other tenets. 

“There is need to speed up rehabilitation and expansion of the Grain Marketing Board storage capacity to absorb the increase in production. 

“In light of threats of consecutive droughts there is need to increase the physical Strategic Grain Reserve 500 000 tonnes to one million tonnes comprising 800 000 tonnes maize and 200 000 tonnes traditional grains,” said the Ministry. 

The ministry said the summer cropping programme will be funded through public, private, development partners’ support and Public Private Partnership arrangements. 

“Government will finance Presidential crop and livestock input schemes through Treasury and provide Government guarantees for Government programmes funded through AFC and CBZ. 

“The crops outside the Government funded programmes will get support from private contractors, farmers own resources and development partners. 

“In line with the National Development Strategy 1 underpinning tenets, value chain financing models through contract farming is a smart and sustainable way to support growing and off-take of strategic crops. Merchants in the oil, stock feed and milling industries will be compelled to adopt backward integration and fund at least 40 percent production of their raw material supply locally,” said the document. 

The Ministry said a Productive Sector Financing Facility with a favourable interest rates will be put in place to enhance private sector value chain financing.