Combine Harvesters shortage hampers wheat harvest

Most wheat farmers in Matabeleland North have not finished harvesting their crop, owing to a serious shortage of combine harvesters and labour.

There are fears that some of the crop might be destroyed by rains which are expected any time from now.

Farmers who spoke to The Zimbabwean this week accused Zanu (PF) chefs who received combine harvesters under the controversial Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Farm Mechanisation Programme of refusing to share them with the new farmers.

Some of the Zanu (PF) big wigs who reportedly received the combine harvesters in the province are Cain Mathema, the governor for Bulawayo Metropolitan province and Thokozile Mathuthu, the Matabeleland North governor.

“Normally by the third week of November, we would have finished harvesting our wheat crop, but as I speak to you most farmers have not yet started harvesting.

Most of the farmers are hiring the combine harvester from a local white guy who is charging very low rates,” said Egness Mlilo, a new farmer in Umguza.

“We were hoping that some of our leaders who received combine harvesters under the farm mechanisation programme might assist us with the equipment but it seems they are using them for themselves only.

Those who are prepared to hire them out charge high rates at above those charged by Mr Davies, the local white farmer,” said Mlilo who is also the local Zanu (PF) women’s league chairperson. Another farmer, Alois Gwetu, complained about the shortage of labour in the area.

“Most locals are not willing to be employed as farm labourers. They prefer gold panning. This is a big challenge. The few who are willing to be employed are charging very high rates,” he said.

The farmers are also anxiously waiting for the government to announce the new producer price of the crop.

During the previous marketing season, the wheat producer price was pegged at $446 per tonne.

This season, the country anticipates harvesting about 20 000 tonnes of wheat from the 12 000 hectares under the crop.

Since the beginning of the land invasions, winter wheat cropping has dropped from 70 000ha.

Post published in: Agriculture

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