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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Chiredzi farmers venture into wheat production

Story by Gay Matambo

FARMERS at the Malikango irrigation scheme in Chikombedzi, Chiredzi District are confident of a good wheat harvest of between five and six tonnes per hectare this year, after putting more than 20 hectares under winter wheat.

Although the bulk of the country’s wheat has been produced by commercial farmers, this year, the government encouraged smallholder farmers with irrigation capacity to venture into winter wheat production, through the provision of inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.

A visit by ZBC News to the Malikango irrigation scheme shows that the winter wheat crop has been a major success with farmers at the scheme making final preparations to harvest their crop.

“We have been focusing on sugar bean and maize so this year we were encouraged to try wheat and we did just that,” said a farmer.

“As you can see, we have a thriving wheat crop, we thank the government for providing inputs and we want to do more next time,” said another farmer.

“What used to hold us back from growing wheat was that we didn’t have the inputs, but now that the government rolled out the Presidential Inputs Scheme, nothing will stop us from now on,” added another.

Chikombedzi agriculture extension supervisor, Mr Elimon Chauke said the uptake of farmers under wheat production at the scheme during this year’s winter wheat season has been impressive.

“We registered 20 hectares under the Presidential wheat farming through our district and we were given inputs on time. Farmers here used to focus on maize and sugar bean crops, but this year, they have also become part of the wheat farming programme. We planted the first week of May and let me note that irrigation schemes have also played a significant role in mitigating the effects of climate change in our area, which is in natural region 5, characterised by dry spells,” he said.

In Chiredzi district, 300 hectares were put under winter wheat production at Malikango, St Joseph, Tshovani, and Labhamba irrigation schemes as the country is projected to produce 420 000 tonnes of wheat this year.

“Malikango irrigation scheme farmers are part of the farmers that joined the winter wheat production programme. They were taught everything they needed to know about wheat production. We are expecting five to six tonnes per hectare of wheat here and that means they have done well. We are also encouraging them to use machines to harvest, they are lucky that they have those machines locally available here so that they do not incur losses,” said Chiredzi District Agritex Officer, Mr Tongai Bodi.

Following years of wheat insecurity, Zimbabwe is on a drive to eliminate reliance on the importation of wheat.

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