Only 37,000ha of wheat out of 60k target planted, Parliament told

Only 37,000ha of wheat out of 60k target planted, Parliament told

HARARE, June 27 (The Source) – Ministry of agriculture says that 37,000 hectares of wheat has been planted against a target of 60,000 hectares, Parliament heard on Tuesday.

This represents a 165 percent increase on the 14,000 hectares planted in the 2016/7 season and 10,000 previously.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development secretary Ringson Chitsiko said that high maize moisture content has resulted to the low hectarage of wheat.

“Currently as I speak before this committee we are around 37, 000 and 38,000 hectares. We are (targetting) 60,000 (hectares) … but the big challenge is the persistent high moisture content in the maize grain preventing the farmers to harvest and free the land for the winter wheat planting,” said Chitsiko.

The winter crop planting is likely to continue until late July to reach the planned hectarage, he added.

“By the second week of July, we will know whether we will be able to get to 60,000 or not. The inputs have been coming in adequate quantities, and there are no much complaints in that front,” added Chitsiko.

Chitsiko added that the government had signed a $478 million agreement with  energy company, Sakunda and three banks to finance the 2017/18 summer farming season as part of a drive to improve food security,

The southern African nation is emerging from a drought that left over 4 million people in need of food aid.

Zimbabwe, a former regional breadbasket that has become a serial grain importer since the government’s seizure of white-owned farms in 2000, expects 2 million tonnes of grain in the 2016/2017 season, more than enough to meet the country’s annual demand.

Sakunda will work with CBZ Bank, Barclays and Ecobank to raise the money.