Zimbabwe prepares for bumper harvest


Sydney Kawadza

Zimbabwe is expected to harvest more than double its grain requirements for the Strategic Grain Reserves with Cabinet announcing an estimated 2.8 million tonnes of maize from the 2020/2021 agricultural season.

Zimbabwe requires at least 1.4 million tonnes of maize for human consumption yearly and 350 000 tonnes for stock-feed.

Government had in January set a target of 1.5 million of maize from a verified 1.7 million hectares, which is 18 percent above the national target for the season.

Addressing the 4th Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, however, said government was still waiting for results of the First Round of the Crops and Livestock Assessment due later this month.

She said a further 360 000 tonnes of traditional grains are expected from a promising bumper harvest in 2021.

“On the basis of the afore-stated estimates, deliveries to the GMB are expected to be 2 million metric tonnes of cereals (that is, 1.8 million metric tonnes of maize and 200 000 metric tonnes of traditional grains),” Mutsvangwa said.

She said the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement has come up with a number of measures in anticipation of the bumper harvest this year.

“In that regard, the Directorate of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation has been re-established, with a dedicated Department of Post-Harvest Technology and Storage Engineering to safeguard harvests.

“Information and advice on best grain storage practices will thus be produced and disseminated through pamphlets the national television and radio programmes, bulk SMS and field days.

Safe storage practices demonstrations using metal silos, granaries, cocoons, haematic bags and ordinary bags have also been budgeted for.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said an additional 72 and 21 combine harvesters from the John Deere Facility and Belarus Programme, respectively, will be mobilised for the efficient and timeous harvesting of grains.

“Government is also mobilising internal capacity for combine harvesting through the repair of 25 non-functional combines which are owned by institutions and individuals.

“Furthermore, a total of 200 shellers, which will be made available through the Land Bank Special Purpose Vehicle, ARDA and GMB on a cost recovery basis, will be produced by the local industry for use in harvesting 200 000 hectares for the 120-day harvesting period.

“In the same vein, the Ministry is importing an additional 13 mobile grain dryers from Italy, to the tune of US$1.3 million each, with a capacity of 28 metric tonnes per shift and up to 140 metric tonnes per day.”

She said modalities for grain mobilisation, purchase, storage and infrastructure upgrading were at an advanced stage, with 665 COTTCO collection and buying points being earmarked for use by the GMB as additional collection points.

“In terms of payment to farmers, which has all along been based on a centralised system, the GMB is working on a decentralised payment system to be administered at the depots in order to guarantee the timeous payment of farmers for delivered grain.”

She also assured farmers that adequate measures have been put in place to stem post-harvest losses in the light of the above normal rains being received across Zimbabwe.

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