Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
FARMERS in Matabeleland South have started harvesting wheat targeting an average yield of 11 430 tonnes, from last year’s 5 790 tonnes as the province moves towards enhancing national food security.
Zimbabwe is an agrarian economy with most of the country’s sectors being directly and indirectly linked to the agricultural sub-sector.
Government under the Second Republic is targeting transformation of rural and urban economies through enhancement of food, nutrition, markets, and jobs using value chains as a means of achieving a prosperous, inclusive, diverse, sustainable and competitive agriculture sector.
Zimbabwe envisages to be an upper middle-income economy by 2030 and agriculture is critical in the attainment of that vision, with the sector targeting to become an US$8,2 billion economy by 2025.
This year Matabeleland South has 2 286 hectares under wheat compared to last year’s 1 158 hectares. The increase has been attributed to various strategies which have been implemented by Government and its partners as well as buy-in from farmers.
Already, harvesting of 580 hectares of wheat is underway at Arda Antelope Estate in Matobo District.
The exercise is this month expected to commence in other irrigation schemes across the province.
Food insecurity is a global threat affecting almost every nation with Zimbabwe not spared. The global food crisis has been triggered mainly by prolonged droughts due to climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the on-going Russia- Ukraine conflict, which has affected the global food supply chain.
Ukraine and Russia contributed 30 percent worldwide supply of the wheat. Following the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Government took a bold step to increase wheat farming and expects to produce a record high harvest of 380 000 tonnes this year.
The country requires about 360 000 tonnes of wheat annually and will have a surplus of the crop.
Arda Antelope Estate manager, Mr Aleck Chinyai said they have so far harvested 820 tonnes of wheat out of an expected 5 000 tonnes.
Government through the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) partnered with an investor at Arda Antelope Estate and transformed the area into an agro-processing hub.
Mr Chinyai said they expected to complete harvesting by October 10.
“We are in the process of harvesting wheat at the estate and so far, we have covered 120 hectares out of a total area planted of 580 hectares. The area we have harvested has given us 820 tonnes out of an expected 5 000 tonnes,” he said.
“For now, we will harvest 501 hectares non-stop up until around October 10. From there the combine harvester will move on to Ingwizi Estate where there is also 580 hectares of wheat.”
Mr Chinyai said they have also started preparing land for summer planting. They are in the process of harvesting potatoes.
The estate had 56 hectares under potatoes with an expected yield of 70 tonnes per hectare. Arda Antelope Estate is supplying the potatoes to markets across the country.
Acting provincial director for agricultural rural development services in Matabeleland South, Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said the uptake of farmers under wheat production has been impressive.
“The province has done very well under wheat production this year. We have 2 286 hectares under wheat compared to last year’s 1 158. This significant input can be attributed to the Presidential Input scheme, which equipped farmers with inputs,” he said.
He said the Government working with partners also rehabilitated some irrigation schemes.
“Farmers also received assistance in the form of financing and farming equipment which has helped them to increase their production. These strategies have seen irrigation schemes like Guyu-Chelesa producing wheat for the first time in many years and newly established irrigation schemes like Mtshabezi producing wheat for the first time,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Abedinico Ncube said the increase in the yield will help boost food security and nutrition in the province.
“It’s pleasing to see that farmers have responded well to Government’s initiative of maximising production in order to ensure food security. This strategy could not have been possible without the buy-in of farmers,” he said.
The minister said the province has significantly benefited from Government’s farming projects.
Launching the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) in November 2020, President Mnangagwa said under the five-year Government economic blueprint, all sectors of the economy are obliged to increase their productivity.
Under the NDS1, more resources and greater momentum are being injected towards dam construction and efficient irrigation systems.
The Second Republic has made food security a top priority and is working towards a US$8,2 billion agriculture industry economy, contributing 20 percent of GDP by 2025, underpinned by the country’s NDS1 — the driver towards Vision 2030 to make Zimbabwe an upper middle-income economy.
In 2019, the Government introduced the Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Scheme, popularly known as Intwasa/Pfumvudza.
The Pfumvudza farming concept is a sustainable way of crop production intensification whereby farmers use few resources, expend energy on a smaller price of land, thereby reducing labour. – @DubeMatutu.
Article Source: The Chronicle