The Sunday Mail
The country can harvest over 500 000 tonnes of cereals this season if current rains continue until month-end, a situation that can save it US$260 million in grain imports, a Government official has said.
During drought years, the country spends an average US$257 million annually on grain imports.
This year’s grain harvest will also be complimented by the strong reserves of around 1,4 million tonnes produced under Command Agriculture during the 2016/ 17 season.
However, that will not be the case this year as those with late planted crops are likely to have good yields.
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Davison Marapira told The Sunday Mail Business that the country will have sufficient food requirements for the next 14 months.
“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 smaller 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.
“Zimbabwe will certainly save a great deal of foreign currency of around US$260 million if it attains a significant harvest.
“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 big crops being write offs, we still have some good crops, which can also add to the national basket,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.
He said if the country receives 100mm of rainfall in the next two weeks, a good harvest will be achieved.
This comes after the country experienced one of the longest dry spells in January, resulting in some crops suffering from moisture stress.
The country is currently carrying out its first crop assessment to evaluate the possible output.
Deputy Minister Marapira said most rivers are now overflowing, which is a good sign for many farmers who irrigate their crops.
This is also good news for livestock as grazing lands have been revived by the rains.
Government introduced Command Agriculture as a prudent way of cutting the country’s unsustainable import bill through increased local production.
It seeks to boost employment creation and industrial capacity utilisation.
Driven by the overwhelming success of the programme in maize production, Government has extended Command Agriculture to other crops such as wheat and soya beans; as well as the livestock sector, which could help Zimbabwe cut its trade deficit.
Government is expected to save over US$1 billion annually if it successfully implements the Command programmes.
The authorities are on high alert in terms of permits issuance as it moves to promote localised production and exports.
In the next few years, the agriculture sector should contribute over 60 percent of the country’s export earnings.