Zimbabwe grain millers mull contract farming to boost production

ZIMBABWE – The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has unveiled plans of venturing into a contract farming scheme with an aim of increasing the country’s wheat output.

According to a report by NewsDay, the move seeks to set off the country from overreliance on wheat imports – which has in the past implicated the sector.

“To promote and expand contract wheat farming activities in all suitable farming districts in Zimbabwe, aiming to achieve national annual yield of at least 150 000 metric tonnes for the next three years.

This contract will top attract new investment locally and abroad,” GMAZ said in a statement.

GMAZ said has appointed a technical committee which will be responsible for mobilising inputs and machinery  to aid in the production of wheat.

According to Tafadzwa Musarara, chairman of the association, the committee will be disputed Greame Murdoch of Paper Hole Investments (PHI) and will also include members from SeedCo, Rift Valley, Metbank and Ecobank

The committee will also lobby for the alignment of some statutory regulations in a bid to incentivise contract farming, deter and discourage side marketing and inputs abuse among others.

This comes amid emphasis on the millers to venture into wheat farming as a remedy to enhance raw materials supply for their milling operations, given forex currency shortage challenges in the country.

Last year Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube, said that the government had agreed on measures to boost local wheat production through facilitating grain millers and bakers be venture into wheat production for their specific needs.

Shortage of wheat for milling has threatened most of the milling companies and bakeries pushing the players to consider closing business.

Zimbabwe requires approximately 450 000 metric tonnes of wheat annually, but can barely produce half of that demand, spending close to US$100 million in imports annually.

In the 2017-18 season, Zimbabwe produced 186 243 tonnes of wheat, with 80% of the tonnage delivered from farmers contracted under government’s farm inputs support scheme and Command Agriculture.

However, the country’s local production declined during the previous season amounting to less than 100 000 tonnes of wheat.

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