Wheat planting window still open

Source: Wheat planting window still open | Herald (Top Stories)

Zimbabwe needs at most 360 000 tonnes of wheat annually so with the projected 340 000 tonnes, it will need very little in terms of supplements, which also means a huge reduction on the import bill

Elita Chikwati

Agriculture Reporter

More than 30 000 hectares of wheat have germinated across the country as stakeholders are confident of meeting the targeted 85 000ha for this winter cropping season.

Farmers have been urged to continue planting as the window will still be open until June 10.

In an interview yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement permanent secretary, Dr John Basera yesterday said farmers should not plant further than June 15.

“So far 30 000 hectares of wheat have germinated as more wheat is being planted across the country.

“This year wheat was rolled out in three components. The National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme formerly known as Command Agriculture was this year administered through CBZ Agro-yield. The target was 60 000 hectares to achieve 300 000 tonnes of wheat at an average yield of five tonnes per hectare.

“So far 60 230 hectares have been fully contracted and farmers are collecting inputs and planting,” he said.

CBZ Agro-yield managing director, Mr Walter Chigodora said the programme could contract farmers to plant 65 000 hectares.

“Since we are still within the planting window, CBZ can extend the contract up to 65 000 hectares. Enough inputs for the contracted farmers have been distributed across the country and farmers are collecting. So far more than 50 percent of the targeted hectarage has germinated,” he said.

The second programme is under the private sector wheat production initiative.

“Pursuant to the agriculture recovery plan’s key to encourage and compel the private sector to produce at least 40 percent of the raw material requirements locally, the private sector particularly on the wheat programme has been encouraging.

So far under this programme, 11 900ha have germinated out of the set target of 15 000ha. The private sector initiative has also seen farmers planting 7 000ha of barley under Delta Corporation contract farming. 

“By encouraging participation, an upscaling productivity and production, we will be placing agriculture at the centre-stage of achieving Vision 2030 objective. We cannot overemphasise the importance of agriculture in overall economy; employment creation, GDP, import substitution and raw material supply and export earnings and rural economy growth,” he said.

Agritex director, Mr Stancilae Tapererwa said the optimum planting window was up to May 31. 

“For all plantings done from June 1, we need to increase seed arte to compensate for reduced tillers (shoots) from 125 kilogrammes per hectare to 150kg/ha.

“We need to make sure farmers close wheat planting by June 10. For late planting we encourage short season varieties,” he said.

Mr Tapererwa said the Presidential Inputs Scheme was targeting to support irrigating smallholder farmers with a life line inputs package of wheat comprising seed, fertilisers and chemicals.

“Under this programme 10 000 hectares are being targeted. Farmers have registered for 9 200 hectares. Collection of inputs and planting is underway,” he said.

Dr Basera said the Presidential Wheat programme was aimed at upscaling viability and sustainability among irrigating smallholder farmers.

“Taking farming as a business should be in calculated across the smallholder farming community especially as we seek to improve livelihoods and incomes pursuant to the objectives of Vision 2030,” said Dr Basera.

Mr Tapererwa said every farmer with five hectares and below with functional irrigation facilities including gardens and individual and community vleis that can take wheat up to harvesting had been registered and were collecting inputs and planting.

“Farmers are not expected to pay for the inputs, but they can send the surplus to the Grain Marketing Board and get paid for that,” he said.

Government announced a pre-planting producer of $43 778, 84 per tonne for ordinary wheat and grade A will be paid a premium price of 20 percent above the utility grade up to $52 534,61 per tonne.