Wheat shortage inevitable

Zimbabwe faces a severe wheat shortage after farmers abandoned the crop due to constant power cuts and lack of support from the government.

The country requires 450,000 tonnes of wheat every year and the government is now hoping to produce 75,000 tonnes, leaving a deficit of 375,000 tonnes.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union Executive Director, Paul Zakariya, singled out poor

planning as the main source of dismal harvests. He called for the convening of a definitive sector-wide indaba to discuss and find solutions to the value of land, financing and productivity.

The weakest link

“In Zimbabwe, our weakest link is planning, which at best can be described as pathetic. Contrary to the situation where plans are drawn up a few weeks before the season kicks off, we need to have our plans in place on time.

“As farmers, we are recommending an all-encompassing consultative forum with players from all relevant sectors where we will address the sticking points that have continued to weigh down progress. For instance, we all agree that there is need to have bankable leases to enable farmers to seek financing from private financiers,” said Zakariya.

“In every country you can think of across the world where farming is taken seriously, it is financed mainly by bank loans,” he added.

A researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Development, Vivian Zvareva, said farmers should have a good attitude and reputation so that the banks can extent loans to them.

A bad reputation

“Farmers have a bad reputation of defaulting on loans extended to them by banks and the goodwill and trust between the two has been eroded,” she said.

According to the Commercial Farmers Union, only $350 million is expected to flow into agriculture from various funders this season. Over the last decade, local producers have managed to produce up to 26,0000 metric tonnes of wheat from about 65,000 hectares, with the balance being imported.

In the past three seasons production has gone down to around 12,000 hectares, yielding about 50,000 metric tonnes. In 2010, while the government set aside $26, 6 million targeting 45,000 hectares, only 12,000 hectares were actually planted.

Post published in: Agriculture

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