$20 million for winter wheat

The government has unveiled $20 million to finance the 2012 winter wheat programme at the same time appealing to the Ministry of Energy and Power Development and Zesa “to make necessary arrangements to ensure adequate supply of electricity to wheat growing areas.

Persistent power cuts have negatively affected wheat production in the country with some major farming areas failing to irrigate crops.

Wheat is Zimbabwe’s second staple grain, after maize, but the country — a regional breadbasket before President Robert Mugabe's drive to seize land from whites to resettle landless blacks — has failed to meet its annual consumption requirements of between 400,000 and 450,000 tonnes.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said last year production stood at a mere 12 thousand metric tonnes against the country’s requirements of 400 000 metric tonnes thousand tones

In a joint press statement the Biti and Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Joseph Made said wheat production largely depends on water and electricity.

“It is critical that our ministry of energy and power development and Zesa make the necessary arrangements to ensure adequate supply of electricity to wheat growing areas I have already been talking to the minister of energy.

“If Zesa fails to perform the farmers can not run the production on generators because of fuel and it’s impossible any where to generators of that size,” the ministers said.

Government said it is going to use carry over agriculture inputs amounting to$15 million and also inject an additional $5 million.

“We are going to use carry over agricultural inputs to the amount of $15milllion to this end government will ensure the supply of inputs by the suppliers under the current running contracts,” Made said.

According to the ministries inputs are going to be accessed at a cost price under a credit arrangement, for example the fertiliser bag could be costing $30 per 50 kg that will be the price.

The money as financed will be at a concessional rate of three per cent

as government is avoiding reselling of inputs.

To make sure transparency and accountability each participating farmer will receive a voucher from CBZ and upon receipt of the voucher the farmer goes to the GMB that he delivered last season or the season before.

Biti said his ministry is mobilizing resources that will mitigate domestic indebtedness.

“As ministry of finance we are mobilizing resources that will mitigate

domestic indebtedness to our local suppliers…we want to break this

cycle inter indebtedness and intra indebtedness in government”

Biti however bemoaned poor revenue collection.

“Our revenue is under performing we are not collecting as much as we ought to be collecting as of March end 2012 we have a shortfall of 93 million.”

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