Clinton Moyo and Michael Magoronga, Farming Reporters
FARMERS have started harvesting their first ever winter wheat grown under the Command Agriculture programme in Matabeleland South, North and Midlands with national output expected to hit 200 000 tonnes.
This will be a 100 percent increase from 100 000 tonnes harvested last year. Matabeleland North Agritex provincial officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni said farmers in areas such as Umguza have started harvesting the crop although he could not immediately shed light on the expected yields.
“We have started harvesting already, we started last week but I cannot say how much we can expect because when we are harvesting some of the wheat falls off from the combine harvester and there are other things to be considered before estimating. Birds usually give us a problem,” he said.
Matabeleland South provincial Agritex officer Mrs Simangaliso Ngwabi said the province was expecting about 9 000 tonnes.
“We have already started harvesting winter wheat and we are expecting to harvest above 9 010 tonnes of wheat. We might face some problems because our combine harvester broke down but so far the programme is really going well. We are also preparing for the summer cropping season,” she said.
Mrs Ngwabi added the province has already delivered 6 101 tonnes of maize to the Grain Marketing Board.
In Midlands, provincial Crops and Livestock officer, Mrs Medlinah Magwenzi said the province was on course to surpass its target and they have also been encouraged because this year, quelea bird attacks have been less prevalent.
“I am delighted to announce that our winter command season was successful and unlike in other provinces the qualea birds are not a threat. A total of 4 802 hectares were under wheat and so far we have harvested a total of 1 167 hectares and we are on course in surpassing our target of 3 600 tonnes.
At the moment 712 tonnes have already been delivered to GMB,” she said.
She said high moisture and incessant rains last year led to reduced hectarage that was put under wheat.
“Most farmers in this region are realising between five and seven tonnes per hectare and so far we have supplied the Grain Marketing Board with some of our yields as part of the Command Agriculture programme,” said Mrs Magwenzi.
She added that the province has also supplied 13 224 tonnes of maize to the GMB. Mrs Magwenzi however, said Government must deliver inputs to farmers in time to ensure that farmers concentrate on production.
“So far we have received 60 000 tonnes of Compound D fertilizer, soya bean seed and maize seed and we are hoping to get more inputs including fuel for tillage before the start of the rain season,” she said.
It is estimated that Zimbabwe requires between 400 000 tonnes to 450 000 tonnes of wheat annually.
The country’s peak wheat production occurred during the 90s where in 1990, 1999, and 2001, annual wheat production peaked to 325 000 metric tonnes, 324 000 metric tonnes and 325 000 metric tonnes respectively.
However, this has been on the decline in the past decade.