Farmers target 850 000 mt of grain

Livingstone Marufu
FARMERS are projecting to attain over 850 000 metric tonnes of maize this year, following improved rains over the past two weeks.

Initially, the country had projected to harvest over 1, 7 million tonnes of grain.

However, the prolonged dry spell in January this year saw these projections being reviewed downwards.

Though there are some write-offs in some areas, late planted crops are promising to significantly improve the output.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa told The Sunday Mail Business that recent rains have revived the country’s hope on output.

“We cannot have very good harvests as we expected after such a dry period. Some are counting losses everyday instead of focusing on the positives. The current rainfall patterns will improve our harvests to above 50 percent of our 1, 7 million metric target.

“This generally translates to around 850 000 metric tonnes output of grain,” he said.

The country is currently carrying out first crop assessment in the whole month of February to evaluate the possible output the country can get.

Mr Chabikwa went on: “Yes there are remarkable recoveries on dry land tobacco, late planted dry land maize crops, all small grains and cotton in most provinces except in Mat South and Masvingo where not much rains have been received.

“Also, cattle grazing, underground water tables and dam levels are set in improve immensely.  If the rains stretch to April and temperatures don’t drop to cold levels, the situation will improve more.

“It will also be a good head start for the winter wheat production.”

Zimbabwe could save up to US$260 million on grain if the current rains persist until month end.

The  Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement has assured the country of sufficient food requirements until the next harvest.

The country boasts of strong reserves of around 1, 4 million metric tonnes.

Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Davison Marapira recently said, “We might not get the expected output of maize due to prolonged dry spells in January but we are quite sure of a very good harvest as most of the late planted crop is in an amazing condition.

“We want to reassure the nation that the country has adequate food requirements up to the next harvesting season (April 2019) and considering that the heavy rains have revived our small crop, food self-sufficiency is guaranteed.

“Small crops are still in a very good condition and it’s the best time to top dress to get the best out of that crop. Despite most early planted crops being write-offs, we still have some good crops which can also add to the national basket.”

Government came up with an import substitution Command Agriculture programme.  Through increased local production to boost employment creation and leverage industrial capacity utilisation, the programme is a prudent way to cut the country’s unsustainable import bill.

Given the current grain reserves and the projected output, Zimbabwe could save up to US$257 million this year.

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