Wheat Production Falls By Over 5000 Hectares

Only 9500 hectares of wheat was planted during the winter cropping season compared to 15 982 registered last year, Donald Khumalo, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president said.

Khumalo noted that wheat farmers are disappointed with government’s failure to honour its promise to avail the US$20 million input support scheme to ramp up production.

“We had numerous challenges with regards to winter wheat farming. The promised input support scheme never materialised.

“You will recall that the government promised US$20million input support to wheat farmers but that never materialised again.

“This is the reason why farmers only planted less than 10 000 hectares of the crop due to lack of inputs,” Khumalo said in an interview.

“Wheat farmers do not have money to buy top dressing fertiliser to protect their crops and that is a disaster. Load shedding by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is also threatening the planted crop.

“At the same time, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is yet to pay farmers for last year’s wheat deliveries leaving wheat farmers in a quandary as they owe a number of suppliers and banks. Farmers are demoralised  ,” he added.

The US$20 million input support scheme was announced in April with hopes of helping increase the country’s wheat production to 75,000 tonnes this year.

Wheat production had declined sharply over the years owing to lack of proper financing and implementation mechanisms by government.

Zimbabwe requires 400,000 tonnes of wheat annually and wheat shortages mean that the country has to meet the shortfall with costly imports from countries such as South Africa and Zambia.