By Mukudzei Chingwere/ Herald Reporter

Enough inputs, including fertilizer and chemicals, were supplied to support this winter’s wheat production and there would be an uninterrupted supply of electricity and fuel for farmers so the expected record harvest can achieve, Cabinet has announced.

Wheat farmers have exceeded the target of 75 000 hectares set by Government, and authorities have now promised there will be no power cuts for farmers to ensure maximum yield.

Wheat is grown under irrigation and farmers need assured power supplies to pump water and run the irrigation equipment. Rainfall is negligible during the growing season, but with inputs and uninterrupted irrigation a large crop is assured.

Government has also committed to paying all grain and oil seed farmers promptly with a bonus for those who supply their maize, traditional grains, soya, sunflower and other summer crops on time.

So far the value of the grain delivered this year is $1,8 billion and US$2,12 million with $748 million and US$2 million having already been paid to the farmers.

Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the practical steps to ensure a decent harvest.

“There are enough fertilisers and chemicals to support winter wheat production.

“Some 100 megawatts of electricity have been ring-fenced for farmers and are exempt from load shedding, while PetroTrade availed 750 000 litres of fuel to be distributed through the Agricultural Marketing Authority. Adequate measures have also been put in place to control quelea birds,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Farmers had met and exceeded the target of planting 75 000ha and so produce 383 000 tonnes, enough to bring Zimbabwe to self-sufficiency for the first time ever.

Farmers managed to meet the planting target despite a late start to winter cropping preparations as summer rains kept falling later than usual.

Cabinet was updated on the 2022-2023 cereal marketing season and 2022 winter wheat production.

The summer grain marketing season opened on April 1 this year with substantial stocks carried over from the previous season, and Minister Mutsvangwa stressed that Government is committed to paying farmers on time.

“The grain intake as at June 22 was 20 626 tonnes. The value of the grain delivered so far is $ 1,8 billion and US$2,12 million with $748 million and US$2 million having already been paid to the farmers.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said it is anticipated that deliveries will peak between July and September, before declining in November.

“The grain millers have concluded import contracts of 400 000 tonnes from Malawi and Zambia. It has been indicated that social welfare will require 30 000 tonnes every month.”

Looking at tobacco marketing, Minister Mutsvangwa said a total of 152 million kg valued at US$456,47 million has been sold so far with an average auction price of US$3,19/kg, compared to US$2,81/kg last year.

“Tobacco merchants have exported 75 300 000kg of tobacco valued at US$359 934 000, compared to 65 500 000kg valued at US$258 725 000 exported during the same period the previous year.

“The target volume for the 2022-2023 season is 275 million kg from 135 000 hectares, with 96 percent of the production being under contract,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

The cotton marketing season opened on June 13, with five contractors having been issued with buyers’ licenses.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the seed cotton intake as at June 23 stood at 22 349 202kg, with the new cotton price having been generally welcomed by farmers.

Wheat farmers have commended President Mnangagwa’s business friendly policies as the main reason for surpassing the target for the crop set by the Government.

Mrs Patience Ushe said Government is alive to the fact that farming is a business and has allowed the growth of farmers through various supporting measures.

“The most important thing is that our government understands that farming is a business and policies in place should support return of investment for farmers,” she said.

Mr Tichaona Magaya, another farmer, said the most important thing in their trade is the availability of inputs and a ready market.

“What is important for farmers to do well is the availability of inputs, and this has been ensured, inputs are readily available.”

A farm labourer, Mr Godknows Phiri said since the coming in of the Second Republic their efforts are now being rewarded.

“Previously working in farms was a poor man’s job, but now I cannot say we are happy, but we are managing a decent life. It shows that our employers are benefiting from agricultural produce,” said Mr Phiri.

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