Government has lauded Delta Corporation for supporting local farmers by contracting them to produce its raw materials for beer production.
Delta Corporation contracts local farmers to produce barley, sorghum and maize used in the production of its beer brands.
The company no longer imports barley and depends on local production, in the process reducing pressure on foreign currency demand.
Officiating at a barley field day at Resurge Farm in Selous, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro, said the role that Delta Corporation plays in the revitalisation of the agricultural sector could not be overstated.
“The company contracts a substantial number of households in both sorghum and barley production as the corporation provides inputs and a market to farmers.
“This is a model, which should be copied by other local companies rather than relying on the importation of primary commodities from neighbouring countries.
“Barley is a key input in the production of beer, Delta relies on locally produced barley, which is grown under contract.
“This field day is to show case the company’s successful partnership with farmers who grow barley under contract schemes,” he said.
Barley is malted in Kwekwe Malting plant, which has a capacity to process 40 000 tonnes of barley of which 22 000 tonnes is from the local market.
“With proper skills, commitment and partnership, our indigenous farmers can succeed and stand with the best.
“Delta Corporation has since stopped importing barley, a development which eases pressure on our Balance of Payments as a country. It is also pleasing that the yields on barley, which declined post the land reform, have recovered from an average of 2,6 tonnes per hectare in 2009 to over six tonnes per hectare.
“Some of our farmers achieved yields as high as nine tonnes per hectare.
“In 2018 which is a sign that we are on a positive growth trajectory.
“Delta Corporation’s role on offering the key support to farmers through providing inputs developing the malting varieties and agricultural extension services shall forever be cherished by Government,” he said.
Delta Corporation, agricultural services general manager, Grace Sithole, said the company required 34 000 tonnes of barley, 65 000 tonnes of maize, 13 000 tonnes of malting sorghum and 3 000 tonnes of eagle sorghum.
“Under the contract arrangements farmers get seed, fertilisers and chemicals and of late are getting generators to supplement electricity.
“Farmers are also provided with technical advice and the company makes a follow up from planting to harvesting to ensure farmers produce the required quality.
“The challenges we face include poor crop husbandry and business management on the part of farmers, declining agricultural infrastructure; fuel availability, transport availability, which is worsened by the demise of the National Railways of Zimbabwe and deteriorating farming equipment as farmers fail to capitalise among others,” she said.
Muzike applauded Delta for the assistance which had seen him boosting productivity at his farm.
The farmer complained of power outages which he said was affecting yields.
A total of 6 000 hectares of barley were planted in 2019 to yield 36 000 tonnes of barley. There have been some losses due to frost and power cuts.
Contract farming can stabilise raw materials supply
Recently addressing members of the Zimbabwe Economic Society, a grouping of economists and people interested in contributing to economic development in the country, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya, lamented low agriculture production that has put pressure on the import bill.
He said the soya beans, wheat and maize sector performed badly resulting in increased demand for imports.
“These areas would improve significantly if the players sponsor some of the value chains.
Said Dr Mangudya:
“And the second one is there are low production levels. If I give you statistics of what we are importing as economists to drive my point home, you will be so surprised.
“We import wheat, which is a basic commodity in this country nine months in a year, we only produced last year wheat which saved the economy for three months only.
“The rest of other nine months we are consuming imports that is $12 million per month and we need 30 000 tonnes of wheat per month and 1000 tonnes per day.
“We import cooking oil (crude) in this country and we only produce soya beans which is good for only one month and for other 11 months, we are importing.
“We import 45 percent of our milk from $7 million to $8 million a month and cooking oil we import about $12 million per month.”
The draught this year will see the country importing almost 800 000 tonnes of maize.
“I am talking about the demand side of foreign currency what would have happened if we were producing ourselves.
“So our second most critical challenge here is production, low production levels,” he said.