Government says it is committed to assisting winter wheat farmers with combine harvesters to speed up winter harvesting at a time when farmers are beginning to panic as the rainy season fast sets in. Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Cde Webster Shamu on Monday said although wheat farmers had a fruitful season, their harvest was being threatened by lack of adequate combined harvesters.
"As a province, we had a fruitful wheat season, only that combined harvesters are a challenge. As Government, we have intervened so that new ones are secured. However, those farmers with broken down combined harvesters should approach Government so that it fixes them to ensure they harvest their wheat before it rains."
As of last week, most farmers who benefited from the Command Agriculture programme had started delivering their winter wheat crop to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots countrywide. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister (Cropping) Davis Marapira confirmed that wheat harvesting had started in most areas. He assured farmers that GMB depots had enough space to cater for the crop.
"We have received over 1,2 million tonnes of maize from the 2016-17 summer cropping season and we still have enough capacity to take in wheat. We have enough space, not only for the wheat being harvested, but for any crop we have recommended for delivery and payments into our GMB depots."
Cde Marapira said he had visited several GMB depots and directed that they ensure more storage facilities were created for the wheat so that no farmer would experience challenges.
"Wheat is not as much as the maize, and farmers have mobilised combine harvesters. We are expecting around 100 000 tonnes, unlike maize," he said.
Zimbabwe, which has become a net importer of wheat, requires 400 000 tonnes of the cereal. Following the success of the Special Maize Programme (Command Agriculture) during the 2016-17 summer cropping season, Government has embarked on similarly structured Special Winter Wheat Production programme in an endeavour to reduce wheat imports.