Farmers have so far delivered more than 110 841 tonnes of wheat to the Grain Marketing Board, representing 82 percent of the 135 000 tonnes expected this marketing season.
Stakeholders are upbeat that most, if not all, the cereal will be delivered before the onset of the rains so as to minimise post-harvest losses.
GMB marketing director Mr Rockie Mutenha told The Sunday Mail last week that the parastatal has 1,14 million tonnes of maize in stock, raising expectations Zimbabwe will weather the adverse effects of below-normal rains forecast for the 2018-2019 summer cropping season.
“We have received 110 841 tonnes of wheat so far this year. As for maize, we have 1,142 million tonnes in our silos of maize received over the past two seasons.
“Agritex projected wheat harvests at 135 000 tonnes, which is what we are expecting to receive from the farmers,” said Mr Mutenha.
Last year Zimbabwe – which requires 400 000 tonnes of wheat to meet local demand – produced 186 000 tonnes.
Mr Graeme Murdoch, director of National Foods subsidiary PHI Commodities, recently said its analysis indicated the country could harvest 200 000 tonnes of wheat this year.
PHI contracted a specialist company to carry out satellite analysis of the 2018 winter cereal crops grown in Zimbabwe.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said his Government is moving to ensure Zimbabwe stops importing crops like wheat and soya which can be grown under contract farming arrangements.
In a recent instalment of his column in The Sunday Mail, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe had been producing “enough wheat to last for about three or less months in a year, with the requirements for the rest of the year having to be met through expensive imports from as far afield as Canada, Russia and Brazil”.
He added: “As much as US$16 million is spent monthly on wheat imports. The meeting heard that instead of supporting farmers to grow wheat, our millers and bakers make a beeline to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which does not grow wheat. They queue at the RBZ for foreign currency they need to import wheat!
“The same story goes for soya beans which grow very well here, and whose present national output is adequate for just one month! For the remaining eleven months we import the product at US$20 million a month.
“Quite needlessly, we have become an import-dependent economy in areas where we have the means, but lack the will to produce. Wheat and soya should come from our land and not from imports.
“This requires business partnering Government and the farmer under contract farming arrangements.”
Meanwhile, Government will unbundle the GMB and create two distinct entities – the Strategic Grain Reserve and Silo Food Industries Private Limited, a commercial entity.
The Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Ministry and GMB, Mr Mutenha said, were working on modalities of the de-merger.
From July 1 this year, some workers were transferred from GMB to Silo Food Industries.
“There are workers who have been identified to move to the new company and a few have already moved, but as of now, I can’t give you the figure,” said Mr Mutenha.
GMB management and Government have received an asset evaluation report, and State approval is being waited for to transfer assets from GMB to Silo Food Industries.
Transfer of assets will begin when Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri approves the Scheme of Reconstruction and, barring public objections, it is filed with the High Court for confirmation.