The Sunday Mail
Government is currently negotiating with Belarus for the supply of 3 000 farming implements, including combine harvesters and irrigation equipment, as it moves to boost local wheat production.
Zimbabwe last year produced about 135 000 tonnes of wheat against an annual requirement of 400 000 tonnes per year.
Farmers have blamed the subdued agricultural performance on lack of machinery.
Addressing delegates last week at a 2019 winter wheat pre-planting conference organised by the Zimbabwe Wheat Board, director for economics and markets in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Clemence Bwenje said the ministry was running a solid mechanisation programme, which will see several farming implements being imported into the country while others are in the process of being repaired.
“Government is committed to improve the area under irrigation. Currently we are only doing about 10 percent of the potential irrigation that we have, Zimbabwe we can do up to 2 million hectares based on the available water that is there, but we are doing only 10 percent, so there is potential for us as value chain players to cooperate, to partner and increase the area under irrigation.
“As Government, we have got a plan where we are seeking to do 200 hectares per district per year; that is the plan to make sure that we increase irrigation. We are also negotiating facilities for the supply of irrigation equipment as well as supply of harvesting equipment , which we appreciate that the unavailability of harvesting equipment is hindering wheat production.
“We are negotiating with Belarus for about 3 000 farming implements, including irrigation facilities and combine harvesters. We have also lined up 3 000 machinery and implements for repair,” said Mr Mbwenje.
Also speaking at the conference, National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe vice president Daniel Wallah said the country`s failure to produce adequate wheat supply was having an adverse effect on the wheat-to-bread value chain as evidenced by the recent increase in the price of bread.
“We have noticed that there is a problem within the value chain. In the industry we have got an installed capacity of plus or minus 2 million loaves per day and prior to June 2018, we were actually producing about 1,6 million loaves per day, post-June 2018 this figure dropped to 850 000 loaves and this was obviously due to a number of factors, but mainly due to the shortages of floor.
“As I am talking to you now , since then we are actually getting about 47 percent of our floor requirements from a demand of 769 tonnes to about 400 tonnes per day, this obviously has an effect in terms of the cost of the product, hence now we have actually seen the increase in the price of bread from where it was in June 2018 to where it is now,” said Mr Wallah.