Govt targets 75 000 wheat hectarage

By Tendai Munengwa
GOVERNMENT has roped in all farmers with irrigation facilities to grow 75 000 hectares of wheat under the presidential scheme, CBZ agro yield and private sector programmes.
The move is meant to reduce imports, which might be affected by the political situation in Russia and Ukraine.
The government has come with a contingent wheat plan dubbed Flour Self Sufficient At All Cost, aimed at producing adequate wheat and avoid imports in view of anticipated global wheat shortages in the wake of the political situation in Russia and Ukraine, which are among the biggest exporters of the cereal crop.
“The plan was initiated with a view of the Russia and Ukraine crisis – as you are aware, we normally import wheat from Ukraine and Russia and it might be difficult or impossible to do that if we fail to produce enough wheat. So we have roped in all farmers with irrigation to get involved so that we produce adequate wheat,” said Dr John Basera, Permanent Secretary of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.
The private sector has also been given a target to produce 40 percent of what they require under the Food Crops Association.
“Government has come up with a policy position that calls for all companies to produce at least 40 percent of their raw materials either through contract and this also applies to wheat,” said the Permanent Secretary.
With the country endowed with over 11 000 dams, observers feel farmers have the potential to produce adequate wheat and curb the negative spillovers which might be triggered by external shocks.
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 30 percent of global wheat exports combined, and since war broke out two weeks 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 percent, the highest level in seven years, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Last week, Cabinet approved pre-planting wheat floor producer prices of ZW$175 741.86, and ZW$193 316.046 per metric tonne of ordinary and premium grade wheat respectively.
To ensure food security, the government recently announced plans to open at least 50 000 hectares of land per year for irrigation. Last season the country produced just above 200 000 metric tonnes of wheat.