Wheat farmers miss deadline, as GMB fails to pay

Farmers have failed to meet the June 15 wheat planting deadline due to a myriad of challenges, which include critical shortage of inputs, cash liquidity crunch and constant power cuts.

Donald Khumalo, ZCFU President.
Donald Khumalo, ZCFU President.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Donald Khumalo, told The Zimbabwean that only a few farmers have been able to plant the winter crop.

“Only 12,000 hectares of wheat out of an estimated 70,000ha have been planted so far. As a nation we will be forced to import the deficit at a higher cost,” said Khumalo. Zimbabwe requires about 450,000 tonnes of wheat f annually.

Most wheat farmers had been forced to either reduce their hectarage or abandon the crop due to shortage of inputs, incessant power cuts and late payments by the Grain Marketing Board.

“A lot of farmers are owned a lot of money by the GMB for wheat delivered two years ago. So they do not have money to buy inputs. A lot of farmers last season also lost almost the entire of their crop because of power outages. Winter crops are now a huge risk in this country. The banks are not also willing to fund irrigated wheat production because of the massive risks associated with the crop,” he said.

Khumalo said instead of importing wheat the government should provide adequate funding for the crop. “Our view is that the government is empowering foreign farmers at the expense of locals. The government should adequately resource local farmers so that they can produce more,” he said.

The ZCFU president said several crops had been destroyed by frost, which hit most parts of Matabeleland recently, destroying crops tomatoes, cabbages, potatoes, maize and flowers.

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