ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe set an average target of 5.2 tonnes per hectare for the 2020 winter wheat production totalling to 416, 000 tonnes nationally.
Contract growers funded by commercial banks were expected to increase productivity to five tonnes per ha while private-sector-funded growers were expected to ramp up productivity to six tonnes per ha.
However, according to reports by Zimbabwe Independent, as at the beginning of December the Grain Marketing Board had received wheat deliveries amounting to 190, 000 tonnes and is projecting the season’s total to be 200, 000-220, 000 tonnes of wheat, 108% below the set target.
In terms of hectarage, 80 000 ha were set as the target but 44, 399 ha was achieved which 80% below the target.
Productivity will also not meet the mark as it is projected to be 4.5-4.95 tonnes per ha.
Despite the out-put being below the target, it exceeds the post-Land Reform highest ever delivery of 164, 000 tonnes, an improvement of 15.8%.
Also, it will be an over 100% increase from the 2019-2020 season which produced a measly 90, 000 tonnes.
The report has further indicated that in the face of the wheat output falling short of the production and productivity targets there are some encouraging green shoots.
The policy to have wheat farming being privately funded was the right move as it has attracted better farmers with the average yields having improved by 12.5%-23.7%.
What is worrying is the 80% shortfall on the total hectarage target signifying more work needs to be done to incentivise farmers to increase the land under winter wheat.
Increased wheat production will generate some import savings. At US$198 per tonne on the world market, the 200, 000-220, 000 tonnes projected wheat deliveries to the GMB, will save the country US$22 — 26 million.
As Zimbabwe gears towards improving its wheat out-put, its neighbouring country Zambia has hit production of 300,000 metric tonnes of the produce annually from 60,000 metric tonnes in 2009 due to government’s deliberate policy to halt imports that disadvantage the local industry.
The country produces six tonnes per ha over 24, 000 ha.
Zimbabwe is seeking to use Zambia and other world’s leading most productive wheat growing regions as bench-mark to improve its productivity with the likes of Namibia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Chile, China, EU-27 and Egypt.
New Zealand achieves its nine tonnes per ha over 45 000 hectares, Namibia produces its 6 tonnes per ha on 1000 ha, Saudi Arabia produces its 6 tonnes per ha over 120 000 ha.
Switzerland achieves its 6 tonnes per ha over 90 000, Chile produces its 6 tonnes per ha over 230 000 ha, China on the other hand realises six tonnes per as 23, 730, 000 ha, EU-27 achieves its six tonnes per ha over 26, 065, 000 ha while Egypt produces six tonnes per ha over 1, 370, 000 ha.
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