The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has said the planting of winter wheat under its irrigation schemes and estates has been progressing well, with a target of 100 000 metric tonnes being set.
The parastatal has said the set target of producing 100 000 metric tonnes will be from planting 20 000 hectares revealing that they have adopted several strategies targeting irrigation schemes, estates and joint venture arrangements with farmers who have irrigable land. In an interview on the planting update, Arda board chairman Mr Ivan Craig said the earlier they finish planting the better.
“We have 231 irrigation schemes where we are targeting to plant 15 000 hectares of wheat. We are going to be targeting five tonnes per hectare to achieve 75 000 metric tonnes. On our estates and contract farming, we are targeting 5 000 hectares and we are expecting an average of five tonnes per hectare to give us 25 000 metric tonnes, bringing the total area planted to 20 000 hectares and our total expected contribution to the grain reserve on wheat is about 100 000 metric tonnes. So, the earlier we finish planting the better so that we are able to maintain and lock the quality and value of our wheat.”
He said with some of the wheat germinating, the best time to complete planting was the end of May. However, if they were to face some delays, they would push it to the second week of June. Mr Craig said going beyond the second week of June, the chances of the wheat being affected by early rains would be very high and would deteriorate the quality and affect the yield.
In terms of irrigable land, he said Arda had unlocked an additional 834 hectares following the commissioning of five irrigation schemes in Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Midlands provinces.
Meanwhile, the success of the winter wheat season will be underpinned by reliable irrigation systems, mechanisation and adequate power supplies. Wheat farmers have been assured of adequate electricity and water for irrigation of the cereal this season.
An estimated 85 000 hectares will be put under winter wheat this year for a projected output of 408 000 metric tonnes, which will surpass last year’s record of 380 000 metric tonnes and the minimum of 360 000 metric tonnes needed for self-sufficiency.
The Government has made arrangements with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) and Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to supply power and water, respectively, to farmers.
According to the weekly update from the Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services directorate area prepared for winter wheat as at 10 May 2023 was 35 495.1 hectares, while 17 865 hectares has been planted and 17 117.5 hectares has germinated.
Matabeleland South is targeting 3 100 hectares with 1 493 hectares prepared so far while 647.5 hectares has been planted as of 10 May 2023. During the same period, Matabeleland North has planted 1 256 hectares against 202 hectares that had been planted same time last year. The province has prepared 1 371 hectares of land so far, while 1 500 hectares is being targeted.