By Anna Chibamu
THE Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and private partners will this year fund the winter wheat production under contract farming by government to the tune of $2.74 billion.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said Friday an increased yield of 415 000 metric tonnes was expected.
The targeted yield output is expected to surpass the required 400 000 metric tonnes annually by at least 15 000 metric tonnes.
The country is also expected to record wheat reserves for the first time in decades if the programme is well undertaken.
Zimbabwe has had to import wheat from neighbouring countries after almost two decades of poor yields due to several challenges.
Speaking of the country’s preparedness for winter wheat production, VP Chiwenga said government will this year increase planted area to 80 000 ha under contract farming from last year’s mere 24 184 ha.
CBZ will have 65 000 ha whilst the private sector will plant the crop under 15 000 ha.
The VP said Zimbabwe has been facing several challenges that included lack of funding by commercial banks and electricity shortages among others, thereby reducing hectarage under wheat production.
Chiwenga, who chairs the Food and Nutrition Committee, revealed the “producer price had been approved by cabinet with a pre-planting winter wheat producer price pegged at $14 143 per metric tonne but subject to review in line with changes in input prices using a cost plus 20% margin price to ensure prices remain attractive.”
He added, “Electricity would be uninterrupted at wheat clusters from April to September, with an added 55% tariff of commercial rates.
“Government has a very minor role to play when it comes to funding under the contract farming but we are looking at $2.7 billion from commercial sector and $400 000 from the private sector to achieve the targeted yield output of 415 000 metric tonnes.”
The Energy ministry and Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) have promised uninterrupted electricity supply to winter wheat farming.
The farming season will not be affected by the poor rains as all winter wheat cluster dams are almost full at 68%, Lands minister Perrance Shiri highlighted during the press conference.
“Capacity holding of dams countrywide is at 55% but for wheat clusters, the dams are 68% full which is enough for the intended winter wheat and early summer crop production,” said Shiri.