Another bumper harvest beckons

08 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Another bumper harvest beckons

The Sunday Mail

Theseus Shambare

More than 1,5 million hectares  have been put under grains in the current cropping season after the targeted 3,5 million households timeously received inputs under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa Scheme, setting the country on course for another record crop harvest.

Government, which is targeting three million tonnes of grain in the 2022-2023 summer cropping season, has distributed over 24 000 tonnes of maize seed to farmers, up from the initial target of 14 800 tonnes.

About one million ha have so far been under maize against a seasonal target of two million ha.

However, some provinces such as Manicaland and Mashonaland have either doubled or tripled the area put under various crops.

The authorities are now urging farmers to take advantage of the current wet spell and the remaining two-week window to finalise planting their crops.

A preliminary assessment last week showed that crops which had started showing signs of moisture stress have significantly improved following rains that were received in most parts of the country since the beginning of the year.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera told The Sunday Mail that seed distribution under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme was complete.

“As guided by our 2023 mantra of ‘going4growth’, we have made sure that farmers receive inputs on time,” said Dr Basera.

“We believe timeous input distribution is a recipe for a good harvest.

“Today, we are proud to announce that we have successfully completed seed distribution of all cereals, from maize to traditional grains, under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa scheme.

“The practices associated with this scheme are proving to be the smartest way of countering climate change as evidenced by our early crop that has survived a short dry spell experienced in December.”

To date, farmers have received 24 050 tonnes of maize seed, 5 966 tonnes of sorghum and 2 026 tonnes of pearl millet.

A further 1 195 tonnes of sunflower, 2 658 tonnes of groundnuts,

1 215 tonnes of sugar beans and 907 tonnes of cowpeas have been distributed as well.

Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services chief director Professor Obert Jiri said Zimbabwe could be in for another bumper harvest if current preparations are anything to go by.

“January rains are good news to us and Zimbabwe as a whole,” said Prof Jiri.

“Our maize planting window is still open until mid-January, while traditional grains can be planted until mid-February and beans can even be planted at the end of February.

“Usually, we talk of a possible drought when we fail to get rains after four weeks of planting. However, most of our early crop is between four and five weeks, and these rains will help that crop yield better.”

This season, farmers are expected to put 380 000ha under sorghum and 250 000ha under pearl millet.

Sunflower crop is expected to cover 153 710 ha, while 25 000 ha will be under finger millet.

Presently, Manicaland Province is leading in terms of the hectarage put under production, as it has 240 000ha under grains, up from 70 000ha during the same period last season.

The province is also leading in the production of sorghum (30 000ha), pearl millet (29 000ha) and sunflower (4 500ha).

Farmers in Mashonaland Central are leading in soya beans after putting 8 057 ha under the crop, almost double the 4 833 ha at the same time last season.

“The variation of the planting progress is affected by the climatic conditions of the provinces,” said Prof Jiri.

“There are other areas which are yet to receive effective rains like Hurungwe and Chivi and we hope the current heavy rains will reach those areas so that they can plant traditional grains.

“Above all, we are encouraging farmers to plant short-season varieties of all crops.”


Prof Jiri said an African armyworm invasion that was detected on over 130 ha of maize crop in Mbire and Gokwe districts had been contained.

Only five hectares were damaged.

“We encountered threats of the African armyworm and fall armyworm a fortnight ago but our Department of Migratory Pests and Biosecurity successfully contained the pests.

“We have set up surveillance systems to detect any future invasion and act accordingly, and we have enough chemicals to thwart an outbreak.

“Reports from our experts show that there has been no major damage on crops and the pests have been contained successfully through our early warning system set up to detect future invasions,” he said.

Producer prices

Prof Jiri said the planting season got off to a slow start owing to the delayed announcement of pre-planting producer prices.

A fortnight ago, Government announced the 2022/2023 summer cropping pre-planting prices for grains.

The producer price for maize was set at US$335 per tonne, while the price of soya beans was pegged at US$597,59, with sunflower farmers set to be paid US$687,23.

“We also witnessed a slow start to the season due to fears among farmers due to lack of information on rain patterns and late announcement of pre-planting producer prices.

“But after we provided that information to the farmers, the response was overwhelming,” he said.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union secretary-general Mr Paul Zakariya said: “Pre-planting prices are quite fair and the prompt reaction to the armyworm invasion is commendable as well.

“However, going forward, the Government needs to consider the time factor in making sure targets are met.

“If they had announced prices on time, we could have surpassed the target by now.”

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