Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S winter wheat production this year is projected to reach over 200 000 tonnes from about 10 000 tonnes.
The country is geared to achieve self-sufficiency this year and curb wheat flour imports, which have since been removed from the Open General Import Licence under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016.
Increased private sector participation is expected in wheat production this year as plans to put the crop under the Command Agriculture scheme gather momentum.
A specialised command scheme is already being rolled out on the maize crop targeting two million tonnes yield from 400 000 hectares of land.
The Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said the initiatives being put in place by the Government would boost output this year.
“Preliminary indications show that 2017 winter wheat production will surge to above 200,000 tonnes,” he said.
“This programme (command agriculture) on wheat production will be complemented by the ongoing contract farming by the private sector.
“The sum result of these two programmes will see all the available land under irrigation taken up for winter wheat farming.”
Zimbabwe consumes between 400 000 tonnes and 450 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
At its peak, wheat production in Zimbabwe stood at 325 000 tonnes in 2001 but the crop’s first steep decline occurred in 2002 when output halved to 150 000 tonnes.
Mr Musarara said the multiplier effect of the local farming programme to value chains such as seeds houses, fertiliser companies, chemicals, labour and mechanisation was tremendous.
“This huge harvest will require market space if wheat farming has to continue at that scale. This and other reasons properly informed the Finance Minister (Patrick Chinamasa)’s decision in coming up with the latest policy intervention on flour contained in the 2017 national budget statement,” he said.
The GMAZ chairman noted that pursuant to the objectives of Zim-Asset and the Economic 10-point plan enunciated by President Mugabe, the 2017 national budget statement presented by Minister Chinamasa decided to remove wheat flour from the Open General Import Licence and to amend the rules of origin.
He said this was meant to spur wheat farming and agro processing in Zimbabwe, a catalytic intervention for job creation, value addition and import substitution that the country urgently and desperately needs.
The new policy announcement, he said, now awaits.
Article Source: The Chronicle