By ZBC Reporter
WHEAT farmers are racing against time to meet the extended Monday next week deadline for them to plant the strategic crop.
The extension of the window period to the 15th of June means farmers who had stopped planting can still go ahead, amid reports by Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister, Honourable Vangelis Haritatos that the area so far planted is just over 50 percent of the targeted 85 thousand hectares.
We extended the planting window period to June 15 after carefully analysing the climate variabilities and other factors. However, those planting until that day should now increase seed quantities to 150 kgs per ha, explained Haritatos.
Haritatos is on a tour of wheat farms across the country to access progress of the wheat farming season.
At Nyalugwe and Pacombe farms in Zvimba North, farmers bemoaned power disruptions and breakdown of irrigation facilities, among other challenges.
I use hired tractors and combine harvesters so it’s a major challenge. I also face power supply disruptions, while the shared irrigation system is always problematic,
Labour is a challenge here. Most of my workforce comprises women as most males are leaving to undertake mining. ZESA is also giving us problems as they switch us off without warning yet they base power usage on estimates, said the farmers.
The Minister of state for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Mary Mliswa implored farmers to form consortiums so as to pool resources together to bust challenges they face.
Work as a team so that you resolve challenges as consortiums. You should prop up each other and encourage those lagging behind, she noted.
During the tour, farmers were urged to make use of available agro-based financing facilities with the AFC bank.
The country requires 360 000 tonnes of wheat annually. The largest single harvest in history was in 1990 when 325 000 tonnes were harvested.
During this season, 60 000 hectares will be produced through a Government guaranteed CBZ Agro-Yield programme, 15 000 hectares will be funded by private contractors and 10 000 hectares will be funded through the Presidential Winter Wheat Scheme.