Kiss winter wheat good-bye

1107-2-1-WHEAT STATISTICS NEWLivingstone Marufu

Zimbabwe’s winter wheat production is likely to hit an all time low this year, falling from a peak of 325 000 metric tonnes in the 1990s to under 25 000 metric tonnes last year.

Farmers told last week told The Sunday Mail that cheap wheat imports, unreliable electricity supplies, poor funding and changing weather patterns hindered irrigated production.

The hectarage under wheat has dropped from a high of 60 000 hecatres to 3 000ha last year.

Zimbabwe needs about 450 000 metric tonnes of wheat for human and livestock annually and has traditionally imported the bulk of requirements.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said winter wheat production could soon be a thing of the past.

“We have heard our traditional challenges of poor funding, electricity cuts and of late the weather has resulted in people harvesting their summer crop late. This affects any meaningful preparations because we are supposed to plant wheat in May, but in most cases farmers will still be clearing their maize from the fields,” he said.

“There are also difficulties such as the high cost of water, electricity, seed and fertilisers which are high compared to the price offered by the government and private buyers.”

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said Zimbabwe will import to meet demand.

He said, “We are expecting to produce about 25 000 metric tonnes of wheat. The rest will be imported.

“The problem has been that banks are not funding farmers, and the cost of production is high.

“Also, seasons have changed. When a farmer harvests maize, winter will be upon us. Hence, it will be difficult to prepare for wheat production in time.”

A farmer needs about US$1 200 to produce six tonnes of irrigated wheat.

Government is offering an US$450 per tonne of wheat whilst private players are purchasing the cereal at about US$400 per tonne.

Imports land at around US$360 per tonne.

Mr Chabikwa said Government should have a national policy to promote wheat production.

“Government should intervene and subsidise winter wheat farming to encourage farmers to continue growing the crop,” said Mr Chabikwa.

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  • chiwanikwa chidzachepo

    Fire Made…. he has no clue.

  • Hondo YeMinda

    Something not right with the statistics caption.

  • Jairosi

    Remember the song “marima nzara”? Poor funding, electricity cuts and bad weather are just excuses; we all know why wheat production has fallen. In order to deal with a problem we must accept that there is a problem and identify where it came from. The statistics provided clearly show that wheat production was high before the land reform chaos and dropped sharply thereafter.
    The people who took over the highly productive farms were not trained and geared to manage them. Someone once pointed out that not everyone can be a farmer but it is strange our govt parcelled out productive land to people who cannot even tell the difference between tobacco and maize. It takes years of planning to get to food self sufficiency and clearly Mr Made does not have the competency to steer us towards that. We need capable leaders who can deliver us to prosperity instead of reckless leaders who waste money on countless overseas food security conferences.

  • D.N.Munonyara.

    I am now guided by the popular saying that we should all respect personal opinion. It would be difficult to handle views of our countrymen who are so opposed to the land reform program and would go to any length to discard any good that is coming out of the system. Those who doubt Mr. Chabikwa’s statements about wheat should go around the farms and get to know what is happening. Before they do they should make research and find out what is more complex to produce between tobacco and wheat. They should go further to get production statistics of tobacco and get to know that tobacco production is on the rise in spite of it’s complex production process. They will also learn that most tobacco is coming from resettled farmers. Is it hard to understand problem of power cuts? Is it difficult to understand the production figures and revenue and the impact on the farmer? What about the issue of equipment? The local farmer pays more than $30 for a bag of ammonium nitrate. I challenge critics to check with neighbouring Zambia for fertilizer prices. Dear critics, understand facts so as to make constructive criticisms. More effort is needed to establish problems that confront all farmers black and white.