Government comes up robust winter cereals production plan

by | Apr 18, 2024 | Business, Health, Local News | 0 comments

Government comes up robust winter cereals production plan

Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development has come up with an updated robust Winter Cereals Production Plan for 2024 premised on cabinet-approved El Nino-induced drought impact scenarios, a Cabinet Minister has said.

This was said by Dr Jenfan Muswere, The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services last night while addressing members of the media during a post-cabinet media address in Harare last night.

Dr Muswere said, “The nation is informed that the robust plan is premised on Cabinet-approved El Nino-induced drought impact scenarios. The update consolidates the wheat-based food security thrust, with four components of food security running up to March 2025, as follows: First Stock which refers to the grain that households, farmers, the private sector, and the Government hold as stock; the expected meager harvest from the drought-ravaged 2023-2024 summer season imports, and the winter cereal production programme.”

A total of 120,000 hectares, with an estimated yield of 5.2 metric tonnes per hectare and an estimated production of 624,000 metric tonnes is targeted for planting wheat. The targeted area for planting barley is 7,000 hectares, with an estimated yield of 6 metric tonnes per hectare and an estimated production of 42,000 metric tonnes. The targeted area for maize/sorghum is 3 250 hectares, with an estimated yield of 3.0 metric tonnes per hectare and an estimated production of 9 750 metric tonnes.

Dr Muswere said that wheat planting has commenced in some areas, with various contractors envisaging 123 500 hectares out of the targeted 120 000 hectares. He added that wheat farmer clusters have been submitted to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZNWA) for ring-fencing of electricity and water, respectively. The bulk of the winter maize/sorghum will be produced in regions 4 and 5, while potatoes will be planted in winter in warmer areas and during August on the highveld.

Dr Muswere said, “There are nine production and productivity enablers, namely: power; water; seed; fertilizer; fuel; surveillance for migratory pests; farmer settlement of outstanding farmer payments; finance; and coordination, monitoring and evaluation. Regarding power, the Ministries of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; and Energy and Power Development have constituted an agriculture energy task force to coordinate strategies to ensure adequate electricity provision.”
In the same vein, Banks and contractors are being encouraged to treat electricity as input and prepay part of the estimated bill on behalf of the farmer as they do for seed and fertilizer. Secondly, in terms of the supply of water, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority will implement seasonal billing.
An announced earlier 31% tariff reduction yet to be gazetted but will be backdated in order not to prejudice farmers. Farmers on Stop Order facilities will not be charged monthly interest on overdue bills as was the case before. The Zimbabwe National Water Authority will only start charging interest after farmers on Stop Order agreements have been paid. Thirdly, there is assurance of adequate fertilizer from the major manufacturers/importers.
Winter wheat fuel requirements will be made available through commercial outlets. Fourthly, surveillance for Quelea roosting sites is ongoing. A command Centre will be established to coordinate surveillance and control of Quelea, while provincial command and control centres will be set up.