Drought affects wheat production

SEEDCO says it is experiencing low wheat seed sales this year due to the current El Nino-induced drought that has left over 5,5 million people in need of food aid across the country.

The company’s finance director Felistus Ndawi said wheat seed sales had reached an all-time low this year.

“We realise right now that sales have decreased as compared to what we sold last year at the same time. Even if we still compare the past three years, sales are continuously going down from six years ago where we sold 4 000 tonnes of wheat in a season and it has come down to 1 500 tonnes,” she said.

“Late rains have also affected farmers in that their harvesting of maize crop has been delayed because the crop is not yet dry, which means that there is no enough time for them to harvest and be able to plant wheat,” Ndawi added.

Deputy Agriculture minister Davis Marapira said importations of flour were affecting the production of wheat in the country as millers are finding it cheaper to import than to buy locally.

“Imported flour is cheaper than the locally-produced one and farmers are failing to break even. By importing flour, we are exporting our jobs at the same time, this will affect cash availability because farmers will spend a lot of money in the exportation and we don’t recommend that,” he said.

Marapira, however, encouraged farmers to start planting wheat and consider joint ventures with private sectors for funding.

“We are promising farmers that we are no longer going to have power outages especially in farming communities.

“At the same time, we are still negotiating with Zesa so that at least we have limited load shedding on our commercial farms that are doing wheat and we are engaging Zinwa to ensure that water rates are low so that farmers will be able to break even,” he said.

“As government, we have accepted contract farming where our farmers join hands with the private sector to finance their crops and irrigation schemes to increase the yield,” he added.

SeedCo Zimbabwe managing director Denias Zaranyika also urged farmers to start planting wheat early to increase output.

“Since we have witnessed a declining trend, the earlier you plant the more yields you get. Early rains affect wheat before harvesting, considering what weather forecasters are saying it’s high time for farmers to start,” he added.—Kudzai Chipamuriwo

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It's Everyday Bro Jake Paul - 30 August 2017

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