Zimbabwe targets to boost production of grain

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The Zimbabwe government has set a target to boost grain production for the 2020-21 cropping season, providing farmers with assistance wherever necessary, amid prospects of a good rainy season.

The country has over the years been failing to produce enough maize to satisfy local demand and has had to import to plug the deficit, largely because of bad weather conditions and failure by farmers to procure all the necessary inputs on time.

During the 2019-20 season, the country produced 1.1 million tons of maize against the national requirement of 2.3 million tons for both human and livestock consumption.

Weather experts have predicted a good rainy season, but many farmers who are not covered by various government schemes are complaining about high input costs.

Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement John Basera told media on Friday that a target of 1.5 million hectares had been set for planting maize with an average expected yield of 2.4 tons per hectare.

The government is also expecting higher yields for traditional grains, targeting 750,000 tons of sorghum, 200,000 tons of pearl millet, 37,500 ton finger millet and 240,000 tons of soybean.

The summer cropping program will be funded through public and private entities, development partners’ support, and public private partnership arrangements.

Basera said crops falling outside government-funded programs would get support from private contractors, farmers’ own resources and development partners.

“In line with the Transitional Stabilization Program underpinning tenets, value chain financing models through contract farming is a smart and sustainable way to support growing as well as off-take of strategic crops. To this end, players in the oil, stock feed and milling industries will be compelled to adopt backward integration and fund at least 40 percent production of their raw material supply locally,” he said.

He said this would initially be pursued through use of the permits issuance system with a view to legislating in the long-term.

The government-funded Presidential Inputs Scheme is targeting two million vulnerable households this year and has been rebranded to Climate-Proofed Presidential Input Support Program.

The distribution of inputs under the scheme has started with seed and fertilizers being delivered to government grain storage depots and farmers are expected to start collecting them in the first week of September.

The 2020-21 government-supported Command Agriculture program is targeting to establish 350,000 ha of maize and 60,000 ha of soybeans.

The program will target 5,000 highly productive farmers with a “good track record” of producing maize and soya beans and repaying their loans. Enditem

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