By Rumbidzayi Zinyuke
The Middle Sabi area of Manicaland Province is fighting to reclaim its place as one of the biggest wheat producers, with over 1 200 hectares put under the cereal this year.
Manicaland Province has put on 7 000ha under winter wheat this year, up from 3 000ha last year.
Middle Sabi, a large irrigated area with exceptionally fertile soils, is located south-west of Chipinge District and is home to both A1 and A2 farmers.
Wheat production in the area had gone down in the last decade owing to various challenges, but farmers have been increasing output lately.
Middle Sabi farmers’ syndicate chairman, Mr Sikhumbuzo Thondlana, said more was on the way, adding that a portion of wheat being produced was in partnership with investors, while the rest of the farmers were contracted under Command Agriculture.
“We have put about 1 200ha under Command Wheat,” he said. “About 500ha is being done between A2 farmers and investors from Agri-Alliance. The rest of the farmers are being contracted under Command individually. So far, plus or minus 60ha of wheat have already germinated.”
The window period for winter wheat planting closed yesterday.
The farmers have been getting uninterrupted electricity supply, as promised by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution (ZETDC), resulting in irrigation going on well.
Said Mr Thondlana: “We will definitely increase production to where it used to be in the past, especially if the Command Agriculture programme continues to fund the farmers. The only challenge that might disturb this plan is the limited number of tractors in use.”
The farming syndicate has three tractors, which are not enough considering the hectarage that has been put under wheat.
Government has made a commitment to support 65 000 hectares of the national wheat target, with the private sector funding the remaining 15 000ha for the country to attain 415 000 tonnes.
Zimbabwe requires at least 450 000 tonnes of wheat a year for uninterrupted supplies of bread and other confectioneries.
Low output in previous seasons has seen Government spending the much-needed foreign currency on wheat imports.