The Sunday Mail

Food security guaranteed — Govt

The current maize stocks exceed demand, and consumers are assured of availability of their favourite maize meal brands from their nearest retail shops

Theseus Shambare

The GOVERNMENT says it will ensure every household is “food and oil secure” through timeous distribution of seed for the 2023-2024 summer cropping season, under the Climate-Proofed Presidential Input Scheme (Pfumvudza/Intwasa).

Over 3,5 million farmers are expected to plant close to 1,5 million hectares of drought-tolerant food crops.

A targeted total output of 442 658 tonnes of main traditional crops (sorghum and pearl millet) and 540 000 tonnes of oil-producing crops (sunflower, soya bean and cotton) have been set to meet the country’s requirement of food and oil.

The crops are expected to complement the targeted 2,8 million tonnes to be produced by farmers from at least two million hectares, at an average of 1,4 tonnes per hectare.

Resources have been mobilised from different Government departments and private players for smooth distribution of seed before the onset of the summer cropping season.

According to the Meteorological Services Department (MSD), this year’s cropping season will be affected by the El Niño weather phenomenon, which usually results in below-average rainfall.

Experts believe the country can absorb climatic shocks if the right crop seed is delivered on time.

The Government has adopted a smart seed distribution system, which is based on the condition of the various agro-ecological regions.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said the dryer regions 4 and 5 will exclusively plant traditional grains.

“Pfumvudza/Intwasa is part of our war chest and armour against the realities of climate change.

“It is part of our AMA (Adaptation, Mitigation, Action) strategy. As we leave nothing to chance and no stone unturned, we have made it mandatory for regions 4 and 5 to do traditional grains only, then regions 1 to 3 will go for maize and traditional grains as well.

“This will see a bumper harvest of traditional grains and will imminently ensure that every household is food secure,” said Dr Basera.

Inputs under Pfumvudza/Intwasa, he said, will only be distributed to committed farmers.

“As a prerequisite, for a farmer to get the inputs under the programme, he/she must have prepared holes for at least three plots and gathered enough mulch and liming.

“Presidential input support programmes will support over three million beneficiaries, with each beneficiary being supported with a standard input package comprising basal fertiliser, top-dressing fertiliser, lime, chemicals and seed, coupled with technical agronomic support by our agricultural extension officers,” he added.

According to Government, sorghum will be put under 350 000 hectares; pearl millet (200 000 hectares); finger millet (30 000 hectares); groundnuts (385 000 hectares); round nuts (110 000 hectares); African peas (93 500 hectares); sunflower (160 000 hectares); cassava (5 000 hectares) and sesame (20 000 hectares).

These food crops will complement two million hectares that will be put under maize under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.

Seed and fertiliser houses have since assured uninterrupted supply of drought-resistant seed varieties, which are already housed at all Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots and other retailers across the country.

While announcing the planning prices for strategic commodities, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said private players can now import maize and soya bean as part of measures to build national strategic grain stocks to counter the effects of the forecasted El Niño-induced drought.

“Importation of maize by private players will be allowed, in view of the predicted El Niño, to build national stocks.

“Those with their own resources may import as they want, beginning now.

“Import of mealie meal by households will continue,” said Dr Masuka.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairperson Dr Tafadzwa Musarara said they have initiated processes required to import grain.

“GMAZ has now begun all their requisite processes to import maize, both from the Southern Africa region and the Black Sea.

“We are pleased to advise the country that the current maize stocks exceed demand, and consumers are assured of availability of their favourite maize meal brands from their nearest retail shops,” said Dr Musarara.

X: @TheseusShambare