ZIMBABWE – Premier Tobacco Company has partnered with the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) to grow wheat on a 280-hectare farm using irrigation water from Arcadia Dam.

This initiative is part of Premier Tobacco’s broader strategy to cultivate 1,000 hectares of cereals around the SOS Maizelands Farm in Shamva, benefiting from both a reliable water source and fertile soils.

Additionally, the initiative supports the Government’s agriculture and food systems transformation strategy, aimed at increasing productivity and maximizing land use.

Mr. Owen Murumbi, Premier Tobacco executive director, stated that their partnership with ARDA in wheat farming aims to boost production and support the Government’s food security initiatives.

Currently, the firm is renting SOS Maizelands Farm in Shamva, which has 280 hectares under wheat. It expects an average yield of 5 tonnes per hectare, resulting in an anticipated yield of 1,400 tonnes.

We are aligning well with the Government’s programme. ARDA’s involvement helps boost production, and we are also targeting more exports,” said Mr. Murumbi.

SOS Maizelands Farm manager, Mr. Nicholas Jann Oosthuzen, expressed confidence in achieving a good harvest.

 “We will plant seed maize, soya beans, sorghum, and commercial maize for the summer cropping season. We expect a profit of US$180,000 from wheat. To reduce costs, we have purchased our equipment,” he said.

The tobacco company is the second to enter into an agreement with ARDA. It aims to plant cereals such as maize and wheat as part of a diversified agriculture model.

Boosting wheat production has been identified as a key strategy for enhancing food security in Zimbabwe. The crop, being 100 percent irrigated, is immune to drought.

Recently, the Ministry of  Agriculture data reported that Zimbabwean farmers have planted 121,769 hectares of wheat this season, a 34% increase from last year, surpassing the ambitious target of 120,000 hectares.

This significant expansion ensures a substantial surplus over normal consumption levels, enabling increased production and sales of wheat-based foods.

The pure irrigated wheat crop, deemed essential amidst the El Niño-induced drought, is expected to yield over 600,000 tonnes, far exceeding the country’s ordinary requirement of 360,000 tonnes.

This surplus of 240,000 tonnes will bolster the Strategic Grain Reserve, which currently stands at approximately 400,000 tonnes, ensuring continued food security.

This achievement follows Zimbabwe’s first self-sufficiency in wheat in 2022 and its first significant surplus last year. The Government has since adopted a policy of maintaining wheat surpluses, capitalizing on Zimbabwe’s competitive advantage in wheat production.

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