News Column

Latest - Wheat Planting Starts On Low Note

May 6, 2014

Elita Chikwati



Wheat planting has started at a slow pace as many farmers are failing to mobilise resources after Government withdrew input support for the 2014 winter cropping season.

Over the years Government availed inputs to assist wheat farmers but production has been declining due to a number of reasons that include constant power cuts.

There are fears that the country might fail to harvest 29 000 tonnes targeted this season.

Last season, Zimbabwe produced 24 700 tonnes of wheat.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa confirmed that little activity was taking place on the farms.

"Many farmers have stopped growing the crop as it is not competitive. Others who had been growing barley under contract farming were also affected by lack of funding," he said.

Mr Chabikwa said Delta, one of the major contractors, indicated that it had high stocks of barley malt and downsized support to farmers by 70 percent.

"We are likely not going to meet the wheat target. The challenge of funding was also coupled by the delay in the harvesting of summer crops especially soyabeans," he said.

Mr Chabikwa said Zimbabwe was not a competitive producer of wheat as the crop was grown in winter under 100 percent irrigation and required electricity.

"Some countries such as Canada produce rain-fed wheat as they grow the crop in summer. This is the reason why sometimes the imported commodity is cheaper than local wheat," he said.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made is on record saying farmers must mobilise own resources.

In his 2013/14 national budget presentantion, Finance Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa said wheat production in Zimbabwe was expensive when compared to other countries.

"It costs approximately US$1 200 to grow a hectare of wheat in Zimbabwe against US$230 in Ukraine, US$580 in Russia and US$600 in Australia among others," he said.

"Challenges that have continued to affect the production of the crop include erratic power supply for irrigation, funding and high production costs, among others, making the production of the crop unviable," he said.

Financial institutions are reluctant to fund the crop citing high risk.


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Source: AllAfrica


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