Arda surpasses winter wheat target

16 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Arda surpasses winter wheat target

Judith Phiri, Business Reporter

THE Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has surpassed its 60 000 hectares of winter wheat target this season with estimations indicating that close to 63 000 hectares were planted on.

In an interview, Arda chief executive officer Mr Tinotenda Mhiko said they have since completed their winter wheat planting for the 2024 season.

“Yes, we have surpassed the target that we had set of planting 60 000 hectares of winter wheat this season. Indications are showing that we planted over 61 000 hectares and close to 63 000 hectares, we are yet to get the actual number after doing all the tallying tomorrow (Monday),” he said.

By surpassing the target, Arda would have quadrupled the hectarage this year from the 18 000 hectares planted in 2023.

Mr Mhiko said as an authority surpassing the target was a major development as a wheat-based food security intervention in light of the El Niño-induced drought.

He said they were taking advantage of the competitive and comparative advantage of producing wheat in winter versus maize.

“Our main focus was on ensuring that farmers implement the best agronomic and management practices such as increasing the seed rate to compensate tillering and subsequent yield of the crop that is planted after the 31st of May,” he said.

The country was targeting to put 120 000 hectares under wheat this year with a targeted harvest of 600 000 tonnes at an average yield of five tonnes per hectare, however, indications are showing that the target could have been surpassed.

Owing to the late start of the 2023/24 agriculture season and the subsequent delay in harvesting the summer crop, the Government extended the wheat planting window to June 14 to accommodate farmers with recently cleared fields.

By end of day Thursday, almost 119  000 hectares had been achieved. Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri confirmed the imminent meeting of the target, to our sister paper, The Herald, stating that the country had broken successive production records in the last few seasons.

He said the private sector also played a pivotal role to boost this year’s winter wheat production with Zinwa and Zesa promising uninterrupted power supply and adequate water.

This winter season is the country’s best foot forward to respond to a devastating El Nino drought that caused a 72 percent drop in grain harvest this past season.

Last season, only two countries in Africa were wheat-sufficient, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. The country last year achieved a production record of over 460  000 tonnes against the national demand of 360 000 tonnes.

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