Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Harvesting of wheat has begun, with the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) designating 18 collection depots as the country expects a bumper harvest owing to minimum interruption of power supply by Zesa, which allowed continuous irrigation.
It is envisaged that by the end of October, the bulk of the crop would have been harvested.
This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, while addressing a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday.
She said Cabinet considered and adopted the update report on the 2021 winter wheat production and summer crops marketing presented by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka.
“The public is informed that wheat harvesting has commenced with 65 percent of the harvest expected by end of October 2021.
“To control the reported cases of damage to wheat by quelea birds, the necessary chemical has now been received from Kenya and China,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“Meanwhile, the Grain Marketing Board has designated 18 intake depots for collecting wheat, and is purchasing quality control equipment as well as accelerating grain movement from the northern depots to the southern depots. Allocation of combine harvesters and transporters is being finalised by the AFC (Agriculture Finance Corporation) and GMB.”
Turning to maize deliveries, Minister Mutsvangwa said $1,5 billion was received from Treasury last week for grain purchase by GMB, taking the cumulative figure received to $33 billion. Grain delivered to date is valued at $35 billion, giving an outstanding balance of around $1,9 billion.
“Regarding the delivery of other strategic grains delivery, Cabinet advises that the top 10 maize depots have received 57 percent of the expected maize, the top 10 traditional grains depots have received 78 percent of the intake, while the top 10 soyabean depots have received 77 percent of the deliveries to date.
“To date, maize deliveries have increased by 547 percent, traditional grains by 726 percent and soyabean intake by 914 percent this season compared to the same time last year,” she said.
Regarding preparations for the forthcoming tobacco summer season, Minister Mutsvangwa said 83 938 farmers have registered for the 2021/22 season compared to 79 134 farmers that registered at the same time last year, translating to a 6 percent increase.
Planting of the irrigated crop is in progress and 5 803 hectares have been established to date, compared to 4 029 hectares planted at the same period last year, which is 44 percent higher due to better rains last season and improved water supply situation.
“As part of the localisation of the financing of tobacco, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board has floated tenders for the supply of fertilisers and chemicals,” she said.
On cotton deliveries, Minister Mutsvangwa said the value of the seed cotton delivered to date stands at $6,353 billion.
“Cottco has paid a total of $2.226 billion and US$2 809 539 to farmers.
“Regarding the 2020 outstanding farmer payments, $569 million has been released by Treasury and paid to farmers and a balance of $290 million is still outstanding.”
Cabinet also noted with concern the proliferation of cattle rustling and warned the perpetrators that the law will take its course.
“Appropriate legislation will be put in place to stem this vice while deterrent action will be taken against errant players across the entire cattle value chain, including the revocation of operating licences for errant meat retailers and forfeiture of vehicles and other property for the transportation of stolen livestock, said Minister Mutsvangwa.