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Command Wheat takes shape

Wheat farmers have begun planting the cereal on irrigated land, with growers under Government’s command agriculture scheme targeting 50 000 hectares while the commercial private sector aims for 15 000ha. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Dr Joseph Made said Government had secured part of the US$140 million required to grow wheat this winter.
“The 2017 winter wheat production is pegged at 65 000 hectares and as Government we are targeting 50 000 hectares while the remaining 15 000 hectares is going to be under the private sector,” he said.
“We commend the private players for the support they are giving us. We require a total US$140 million to plant the hectarage under command wheat and we have secured some of the seed, money, diesel and planting has already started.”
Zimbabwe requires 400 000 tonnes of wheat yearly.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said planting had begun in the Mashonaland Manicaland provinces, and expressed confidence in reaching the 70 000ha target.
“If we manage yields of between 200 000 and 300 000 tonnes, we will significantly cut the import bill,” he said.
Mr Zakariya added that farmers faced funding challenges for rehabilitation of irrigation equipment.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said funding had been made available for lime fertilisers, seed and fuel.
The decline in wheat production over the years has also been attributed to electricity shortages.
Zesa public relations officer Mr Fullard Gwasira said the current power supply was adequate to meet the forecast system maximum demand of 1 620MW for the 2017 winter season.
“We have been supporting all sectors of the economy for the past one-and-a-half years with uninterrupted power supply and to a large measure the success of command economy therefore we will try our level best to rectify any faults that might happen,” the electricity utility official said.
“However, the continuity of supplies is still threatened by foreign currency allocation constraints and ZETDC is carrying out planned maintenance on the distribution network to ensure reliability of supply thereby leading to a reduction in incidences of faults on the network.”

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