Produce enough wheat and save forex for drugs, fuel – Min. Shiri

By Zbc Reporter
Lands, agriculture, water and rural resettlement minister Rtd Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri has put the responsibility of cutting down on wheat imports on all farmers who have water and irrigation infrastructure on their farms.
Minister Shiri launched the Mashonaland West winter wheat production programme for this season at Combe farm in Zvimba North. He challenged farmers with water bodies to help reduce the import bill by producing enough wheat and save forex for other products that can’t be produced or manufactured locally.
Combe farm carries highly diversified activities and is owned by Ephraim Pasipanodya who produces a wide range of crops on 300 ha, 90 of which is leased to him.
Minister Shiri said Mashonaland West has been given a target of 35000 ha under wheat with the national target set at 80000 ha.
“Importations of wheat are costing us forex which we should be channelling towards other products such as fuel and drugs some which we can not produce locally. The onus is on us farmers to feed the nation and those working in industries in towns,” said Min Shiri.
Host farmer Ephraim Pasipanodya paid tribute to the government for providing land to the new crop of farmers, urging fellow farmers to help empower government by maintaining production which is key for sustained employment.
“If we don’t maintain production, we will let down the government,” said Pasipanodya.
Minister of State for Mashonaland West, Mary Mliswa pledged to ensure the province will rise to the occasion and produce half the national wheat demand.
She, however, appealed for timeouts distribution of inputs especially during this time of lockdown.
“Our experts from key departments are ready. But our appeal is for speedy distribution of inputs in this lockdown period. We can’t lock down our nutritional needs,” said Mliswa.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development Honourable Magna Mudyiwa has assured wheat farmers of enough power this farming season. She said farmers will have at least three days of power supplies per week.
She added that with inflows into Kariba dam increasing, there is hope more hydropower will be generated during the peak of the wheat production period.
The winter wheat season has begun in earnest but the planting window period is very short and is expected to end by the end of May.