Zimbabwe’s grain millers reduces wheat supply target by 40% on increasing drought

ZIMBABWE – The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has reviewed the National Wheat Contract Farming Committee (NWCFC) target by 40% down to 90 000 tonnes citing depleted water supply for irrigation of the produce.

According to a report by the Herald, NWCFC original target was to mobilise inputs and machinery for the production of at least 150 000 tonnes of wheat valued at approximately US$80 million.

Speaking during a recently held meeting on grain supply strategy, Graeme Murdoch, NWCFC deputy chairman said that the new forecast was based on low rainfall pattern experienced this year.

“We have been looking very closely over the last few weeks at what water is available for irrigation for the winter crop this year and it is anticipated to generate a minimum of 90 000 tonnes reasonably good quality wheat for harvest in October-November 2019.

“We appreciate that this tonnage is below the national requirement but we are trying very hard to substitute imports,” Mr Murdoch said.

Ringson Chitsiko, a government official however, highlighted more public-private partnerships as key to ensuring progression of the grain sector and realisation of sufficient winter wheat produce in the long run.

The El Nino induced drought has affected most countries in Southern Africa which has subsequently reduced grain and other produce harvest triggering an increase in global prices as a result of low supply.

However, Mr Murdoch highlighted that three major contractors: PHI Commodities, Northern Farming and Staywell, involved in the programme are prepared to commit to a minimum of 15 000 hectares under wheat this year.

This comes at a time when the association has unveiled plans of increasing wheat supply by expanding contract wheat farming across the country through attraction of new local and international investors for the next three years.

Additionally, the agriculture ministry has also unveiled plans of increasing wheat hectarage up from 43 000 hectares in a move to ensure self-sufficiency and reduce grains import bill.

Mr Murdoch had earlier on indicated that the body required US$15 million to secure all the inputs required to plant and harvest 90 000 tonnes of wheat.

Zimbabwe requires at least 450 000 tonnes of wheat per year to meet the national bread requirements of nearly a million loaves per day.

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