Early winter wheat planting starts
Farmers in Mashonaland West have already started planting winter wheat early to ensure that their crop
will not be affected by early rains at the start of the summer season.
Last season, over 3 980 hectares of wheat were affected by rains with Mashonaland West having the largest
wheat area affected because of some late-planted wheat. Wheat needs to be harvested in dry conditions
to get top quality and while rain does not destroy the mature crop it can reduce quality and add to costs of
Farmers in other provinces are currently doing land clearing and tilting in preparation of planting.
This yearʼs winter wheat will be planted on 85 000ha, and as the crop is entirely grown under irrigation,
and so has negligible risk, for the second year running Zimbabwe will have a surplus.
The harvest is expected to be in the region of 408 000 tonnes, well above the 375 000 tonnes of last year
and the minimum of 360 000 tonnes needed for self-sufficiency.
This means that Zimbabwe can start building some minimum reserves, or even look at modest exports.
A target of 7 700ha has been set for barley this year, most of which goes to malt for beer.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmersʼ Union president Dr Shadreck Makombe said farmers should use the soil
moisture still available from the summer rains, with early planting enhancing productivity and being
harvested before the next summer rains start.
Dr Makombe urges wheat farmers to seek advice from experts and practise good agronomic practises to
“Also farmers should scout for pests so that action is taken. This is the correct time to start planting,ʼ he
Dr Makombe said the current rains received by the country will ensure another bumper harvest this
Speaking during the wheat planting preparedness discussion held in Marondera on
Wednesday,Permanent Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr John
Basera urged agriculture extension officers to organise pre-planting sessions with farmers, to educate
them on various agricultural activities.
“I urge each and every extension officer, especially in the wheat planting cluster to organise pre-planting
sessions and seminars. This is where farmers relate to real issues of agriculture.
“This is a platform where information on farming is shared. So farmers should attend these sessions and
get information on wheat production, stage by stage,” he said.
Food Crop Contractors Association chairperson Mr Graeme Murdoch said there was need to assure
farmers of the availability of continuous electricity supplies to avoid disrupting their irrigation rosters
given that adequate water is key for the successful production of the crop. Contractors are looking at
around 25 000ha.
“Wheat farmersʼ access to electricity must be prioritised during the whole wheat production period,” said
Recently, Zimbabwe National Water Authority spokesperson Ms Marjorie Munyonga said there is sufficient
water for this yearʼs winter cropping season after dam levels rose above 90 percent of their total capacity.
“As the rainy season winds up, Zinwa wishes to advise farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural sector
that there is sufficient water in the dams for winter cropping and early summer irrigation activities,” she
The wheat crop would be supported through private contractors, Governmentʼs National Enhanced
Agricultural Productivity Scheme (NEAPS), Presidential wheat support scheme and self-financed growers.
CBZ Agro-Yield is targeting at contracting 20 000ha and a harvest of 96 000 tonnes, AFC Land Bank 15
000ha and 72 000 tonnes, the private sector and self -financed scheme will contract 25 0000ha of wheat
and 120 000 tonnes while the Presidential scheme is targeting 20 000 ha 96 000 tonnes. All schemes
estimate the yield should be 4,8 tonnes/ha
The Government has been targeting increases in wheat production to meet the national requirement in
line with the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, the Agriculture Recovery Plan and
the National Development Strategy 1 and in pursuit of the vision of becoming an empowered and
prosperous upper middle income society by 2030. Herald