ZIMBABWE – Lessafre Zimbabwe, the sole yeast manufacturer in Zimbabwe, has ventured into wheat farming as part of its efforts to help reduce the import bill which has had an impact to the local milling and bakery industry.

Lessafre general manager, Mr Munyaradzi Mutsvairo unveiled that the company has already put 64 hectares under the crop in Geluk Farm this winter season, with a projected yield of about 450 tonnes, reports The Herald.

Lassafre Zimbabwe, subsidiary of the French yeast giant, Sociètè Industrielle Lesaffre, is currently the largest supplier of yeast and premixes into the baking and brewing industry as well as waste management companies in the country.

Mr Mutsvairo said that the initiative is also aimed at “managing excess effluent coming out from our factory, which is rich in various nutrients that stimulate plant growth.”

He highlighted that the company is also pursuing other interventions to curb water shortage that are hampering irrigation of the crop adding that the firm has a potential of producing up to 3 000 tonnes of wheat.

“We have talked to the City of Gweru to provide us with more water from Ngamo Dam. We really hope they will consider our plea so that our project is a success.

We have about 410 hectares which could be utilised but because of the water situation, we will only utilise 64 hectares this year.”

“If we could get water to irrigate all 410 hectares of wheat, it means our farm can easily produce close to 3 000 tonnes of wheat, which will significantly reduce the amount of wheat imported from other countries,” he said.

Millers, bakers and other companies in the country have been seen to embrace the approach as a means of mitigating wheat shortages that has from time to time hit the country.

Zimbabwe imports about 500 000 tonnes of wheat per annum valued at US$100 million in order to fill its supply gap.

Recently, the government also announced that it was targeting to put 75 000 hectares under wheat production this winter farming season to significantly reduce wheat shortages in the country.

Under Command Agriculture, 60 000 hectares will be planted while 15 000ha will be sponsored by the private sector under private, public partnerships (PPP).

Wheat shortages have piled pressure on the country to allocate resources to import the cereal.