ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe is set to import 200 000 tonnes of wheat to further alleviate the grain shortage in the country.

According to the deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Vangelis Haritatos, the government has already floated a tender for purchase of the commodity, reports The Herald.

“Our ministry has already flighted a tender for the importation of 200 000 tonnes of wheat through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and several individuals have shown interest,” he said.

Haritatos said the 200 000 tonnes will be expected to last the country for almost seven months considering local consumption stands at about 30 000 tonnes of wheat a month. 

Deputy Minister Haritatos said wheat was one of the strategic crops but the country was not producing enough to meet national demand hence Government was importing to cover the deficit.

“We’ve been importing wheat for the past few years and nothing has changed. We have a number of challenges in the production of wheat, including shortage of electricity but the major issue is the limited hectares under irrigation.

“For the current season, we had enough inputs for 60 000 hectares under Command Agriculture and 15 000 hectares was under the private sector giving a total of 75 000 hectares under wheat,” he said. 

Zimbabwe which is a net importer of the commodity requires at least 450 000 tonnes of wheat imports per year to meet the national bread requirements.

He also noted that the government working on incentives to encourage more farmers to venture into wheat and grain farming.

As part of the interventions, the government recently announced the new maize producer price which is at a US dollar price equivalent RTGS using the interbank rate

He added that the government is also providing agriculture inputs at subsidised prices under Command Agriculture.

However, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) recently 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.

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.