Zimbabwe forecasts increase in grain production with maize rising by 17%

ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe is expecting to harvest 1, 060, 142 tonnes of grain during the 2019/20 summer cropping season according to the second crop and livestock assessment report by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement.

According to reports by The Herald, farmers are expected to harvest about 907, 628 tonnes of maize reflecting a 17% rise, 103, 684 tonnes of sorghum increasing by 158% from the 40, 215 tonnes achieved last season.

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Pearl millet is expected to increase by 39% from the 28, 047 tonnes of last season to 39, 032 tonnes, while an increase of 41% is expected in finger millet production to 9, 799 tonnes from 6, 947 tonnes of last season.

From the 907, 628 tonnes of maize expected to be harvested, Mashonaland West the highest producing province of the country’s main cereal is expecting 309, 984 tonnes, followed by Mashonaland Central, which is expected to produce 182, 938 tonnes.

Mashonaland East and Midlands are expected to produce 129, 385 and 123, 162 tonnes of maize respectively.

Communal farmers are expected to produce 291, 867 tonnes of maize, A2 farmers 275, 315 tonnes, A1 farmers 219, 005 tonnes, old resettlement 88, 354 tonnes, the small scale sector 27, 235 tonnes and peri-urban farmers 5, 768 tonnes.

The reports have further indicated that traditional grains production for the 2019/2020 season is estimated at 152, 515 tonnes, which is 103% more compared to 75, 209 tonnes in 2018/2019.

The growing of traditional grains is part of Government’s strategy towards ensuring that rural populations together with small-scale farmers engage in sustainable and profitable agricultural activities.

To boost production, the Grain Marketing Board has been buying traditional grains at almost the same price as maize i.e. traditional grains at $16 725 per tonne, which is slightly higher than the $16 028 offered for a tonne of maize.

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The estimated 1, 060, 142 tonnes of grain expected this season is not enough for human and livestock consumption as the country requires 1.7 million tonnes for human consumption and 450, 000 tonnes for livestock, with the deficient to be met by imports.

Other crops expected this season include 87, 479 tonnes of groundnuts, 23, 832 tonnes of round nuts, 114, 558 tonnes of sweet potatoes, 12, 650 tonnes of sugar beans and 18, 430 tonnes of cowpeas.

The 2019/2020 season was characterised by the late onset of rains across the country and false starts in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country which affected the crop establishment.

Long dry spells in late December and January as well as the early cessation of the season negatively affected the planted crop.

Climate change has continued to affect agricultural production and this has prompted Government to promote a new farming concept called Pfumvudza to maximise productivity per unit area, even during drought periods, to ensure household and national food and nutritional security.

Pfumvudza involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.

The approach can be used in marginal areas and still give high yields.

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