Winter wheat programme on course

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Harare (New Ziana) – Over 10 000 hectares of land have been put under winter wheat so far, a figure more than double the area planted during the same period last year, an official has said.

Zimbabwe is targeting to put 75 000 hectares under wheat, under various private and government funding models this winter farming season, and is expecting a yield of 400 000 metric tonnes.

The optimum time for planting winter wheat is between mid-April and the last week of May and even earlier in the Lowveld, but planting time sometimes can be extended to mid-June.

Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries, and Rural Resettlement permanent secretary Dr John Bhasera said the winter wheat programme was on course.

“We are targeting 75 000 hectares under wheat and so far over 10 000 hectares (have) already (been) planted versus 3 000 hectares (planted the) same time last year,” he tweeted.

Last year, total hectarage was 66 000.

This year’s winter wheat programme is designed to ensure that Zimbabwe attains self-sufficiency to insulate itself from the impact of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.

The ongoing conflict and grain export curbs by Moscow have significantly pushed global wheat prices up.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 30 percent of global wheat exports combined, and since war broke out months ago, wheat prices have hit record highs, with food and agricultural experts warning of increased global food insecurity.

Food inflation is also expected to rise.

In January, average food inflation around the world hit 7.8 per cent, the highest level in seven years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The wheat supply challenges have seen local bread prices go up as Zimbabwean millers, who expect to import 155 000 tonnes of wheat this year through October, raised maize meal and flour prices as a direct consequence of the war.

The private millers traditionally source most of their wheat from Russia.

Cabinet has already approved a pre-planting wheat floor producer price of ZW$175 741.86 and ZW$193 316.046 per metric tonne of ordinary and premium grade wheat respectively.
New Ziana

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