Bindura (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday the country expected a better wheat harvest this year, which will reduce imports.
Speaking at Kunatsa Estates, in Mashonaland Central Province, after inspecting 350 and 150 hectares of wheat and barley respectively, he praised stakeholders, particularly farmers, for taking up the government’s challenge to cut the country’s costly wheat imports by increasing local production.
Government set an ambitious target this year of putting 80 000 hectares under winter wheat, which was projected to yield 400 000 tonnes of the crop.
Zimbabwe requires 400 000 tonnes of wheat to meet its annnual domestic needs.
Last year, the country only managed to put 24 184 hectares under wheat, resulting in a massive deficit that is being filled by the current large scale imports.
“In the past years, our national production of this strategic crop has been lower than our national requirements and the gap was fulfilled through imports. With regards to the year’s winter wheat season, Cabinet set out wheat production targets for each province,” President Mnangagwa said.
“I would like to commend farmers and extension services across the country, who are working hard to meet the set target, albeit under a constrained environment,” he said.
Speaking about the forthcoming farming season, he said early forecasts pointed to a good rainfall pattern, in contrast to severe droughts Zimbabwe suffered in the last two years.
“The prospects of a favourable 2020/21 cropping season further heighten the need for all farmers in their respective categories, to fully prepare for the upcoming season. However, it is important for us to have in sight the medium to long term food requirements of our country. During the years of a fat harvest, let us also prepare for the years when the harvest will be lean,” President Mnangagwa said.
He said one of the government’s priority goals was food self-sufficiency.
“Going forward, there must be a corresponding relation between ones’ level of mechanisation and ultimate productivity. Those who are mechanised must produce to their level, while those with draught power and those without, must equally work hard according to their capabilities. As a nation we have come to the point where we must say goodbye to food imports,” he said.
“Rest assured that my administration will continue to support farmers as we improve agriculture productivity towards a prosperous, diverse, sustainable and competitive agriculture sector. I therefore challenge farmers to fully exploit the abundant land and water bodies to produce strategic agricultural products to meet our national demand and penetrate the global value chains,” he said.
President Mnangagwa commended the high productivity at Kunatsa Estates, which he said was in tandem with government’s broader growth plans for the entire agricultural sector.
“True to the expectations of the Agriculture Recovery Plan, the production levels, dedication and commitment to farming we have witnessed here are a reflection of what is possible.
“It is therefore my hope that agriculture ventures such as this one will become the epicentre of rural industry systems through the value addition of various farming products,” he said.