HARARE – Government says it is in negotiations with Belarus for the supply of 3 000 farming implements including combine harvesters and irrigation equipment, as it is moving to boost local wheat production.
Zimbabwe last year produced about 135 000 tonnes of wheat against an annual requirement of 400 000 tonnes per year and farmers have blamed the subdued agricultural performance on the lack of adequate irrigation supplies as well as combine harvesters.
Addressing delegates on Wednesday at a 2019 winter wheat pre-planting conference organised by the Zimbabwe Wheat Board, director for Economics and Markets in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Clemence Bwenje said the ministry was running a strong mechanisation program which will see several farming equipment being imported into the country while others are in the process of being repaired.
“Government is committed to improve the are under irrigation, currently we are only doing about 10 percent of the potential irrigation that we have, Zimbabwe we can do up to 2 million hectors based on the available water that is there but we are doing only 10 percent so there is potential for us as value chain players to corporate to partner and increase the area under irrigation.
“As Government we have got a plan were we are seeking to do 200 hectors per district per year that is the plan to make sure that we increase irrigation. We are also negotiating facilities for the supply of irrigation equipment as well as supply of harvesting equipment which we appreciate that the unavailability of harvesting equipment is hindering wheat production.
“We are negotiating with Belarus for about 3 000 farming implements including irrigation facilities and combine harvesters, we have also lined up 3 000 machinery and implements for repair,” said Mr Mbwenje.
Also speaking at the conference National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe vice president Daniel Wallah said the country`s failure to produce adequate wheat supply was having an adverse effect on the wheat to bread value chain as evidenced by the recent increase in the price of bread.
“We have noticed that there is a problem within the value chain, in the industry we have got an installed capacity of plus or minus 2 million loaves per day and prior to June 2018 we were actually producing about 1,6 million loaves per day, post June 2018 this figure dropped to from 1,6 million– 850 000 loaves and this was obviously due to a number of factors but mainly due to the shortages of floor.
“As am talking to you now since then we are actually getting about 47 percent of our floor requirements from a demand of 769 tonnes to about 400 tonnes per day, this obviously has an effect in terms of the cost of the product hence now we have actually seen the increase in the price of bread from where it was in June 2018 to where it was now,” said Mr Wallah
Since last year bread prices have gone up by more than 250 percent from the traditional RTGS$1 to the current price of RTGS$3, 50.