ZIMBABWE – 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.

During a press conference on irrigation and winter wheat farming in Harare, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development Minister Dr. Anxious Masuka confirmed the country’s progress towards achieving the 600,000-tonne target.

He emphasized the importance of good agronomic practices among farmers and assured adequate power and resources for wheat farming.

 “We have planted 121,769 ha, which is 34% above last year, so we are well on course to achieving the targeted 600,000 tonnes,” said Masuka.

He noted the establishment of a water command center and deployment of resources, including drones and vehicle-mounted sprayers, to control migratory pests like quelea birds.

Dr. Masuka also highlighted the role of the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA), which has planted slightly above its target of 60,000 hectares, contributing significantly to the national wheat output.

ARDA’s efforts are expected to produce at least 300,000 tonnes of wheat, to be integrated into the Grain Marketing Board, ensuring national food security.

Professor Obert Jiri, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, praised extension workers and farmers for their hard work, urging them to continue implementing good agronomic practices.

Farmers are expected to approach their agricultural extension workers for support in wheat growing and agronomic practices,” he said.

On his part, the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president, Dr. Shadreck Makombe, commended the farmers’ dedication and stressed the need for a holistic approach to meet production targets.

He emphasized the importance of fire guards and vigilance against quelea birds, urging farmers to seek advice from extension workers.

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