Govt asks millers to help boost wheat plantings

Government has called on millers to help wheat farmers secure seed, fertiliser and farming machinery for the forthcoming cropping season to boost plantings of the cereal to cover a yawning deficit that is forcing government to use up to $100m to import.

This comes as the cash-strapped government has failed to pay for  55 000 tonnes of imported wheat that is being held in bonded warehouses in Mozambique and Harare. 

Zimbabwe has relied on imports to make up for shortfalls and meet wheat demand, estimated at 
450 000 metric tonnes, but output has plunged from 300 000 tonnes to about 186 000 metric tonnes last year.

Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu told business executives at a recent Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) exhibition dinner in Bulawayo that government was forking out $100 million on wheat imports annually.
“The country is spending close to $100 million in wheat imports annually to cater for this deficit. A study in 2003 on the bread price indicated that there was huge deficit in terms of wheat production compared to the nation’s annual consumption, where seven months wheat supply was to be met through imports. 

“Sixteen years down the line, we are still, ladies and gentlemen, faced with the same challenges, if not worse,” he said.
Ndlovu commended millers for bankrolling wheat farming. 
“Command Agriculture has shown that as a country we have the capacity to solve our pertinent problems. I thus, applaud GMAZ for this initiative which will undoubtedly address the challenge we face. 

“This is commendable in that it is purely a private sector initiative and I am a firm believer of locally-generated solutions to the problems we encounter in the nation,” he said.
Ndlovu said he hoped that the intervention by millers was going to increase the yield of the cereal.
“In the 2017-2018 season, Zimbabwe produced 186 000 metric tonnes of wheat of which 80 percent of the tonnage delivered came from farmers contracted under the government’s command agriculture programme. In the previous season, the country had produced less than 100 000 tonnes of wheat. I wish to encourage GMAZ as well to consider mobilising inputs, farming machinery, promoting and expanding grain farming in the country in all suitable farming districts of Zimbabwe. 

“It is also my expectation that the sector can design, promote and support agro-extension services for contracted farmers and also to negotiate with government and farmers unions on producer prices and subsidies,” he said. 

The Cabinet minister also said the milling industry had helped the country to secure enough grain during drought periods.
“The association has made positive strides to ensure the availability of grains and grain products through various initiatives.  I am also reliably informed that a technical committee to spearhead wheat contract farming for the next three years has been established and this is truly commendable. 
“I was also informed that the expected output for this initiative will be at least 150 000 metric tonnes of wheat. Zimbabwe requires approximately 400 000 metric tonnes of wheat annually and it is currently producing about half of this demand,” he said.

GMAZ recently appointed a National Wheat Contract Farming Committee, which would spearhead winter wheat contract farming for the next three years.

GMAZ boss Tafadzwa Musarara is heading the committee, which also includes seasoned agriculture sector specialists Walter Chigodora (SeedCo), Bruce Mawere (Export Trading Group), Roopak Bandra Holland ( Holbud Limited), Brendan Smyth (Origen), Keith Bell (Agro Chemicals Association), Adrian Carbutt (Rift Valley), Prosper Chiyanike (Metbank Limited), Johnson Mahanya (Ecobank), Exodus Donzvambeva (Wintertons), Andy Pascoe (Commercial Farmers Union), Shadreck Makombe (Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union) and Tapiwa Mashingaidze (Fertilisers Manufacturers Association) 
GMAZ said it was targeting to acquire a minimum of 150 000 tonnes per year.

    Comments (1)

    Ukulima I wheat eMoza kugcono...financially it make sense. Ma lile dollar I 2Mn tons ziyangena masinya.

    Gorongoza Organic Grains Ltd - 21 March 2019

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