Agriculture Minister Joseph Made has blamed some new farmers, who vandalized irrigation infrastructure during the land grabs that started in 2000, for the country’s limited wheat production, resulting in sporadic shortages over the years.
Speaking in Chinhoyi Saturday where he officially opened the town’s agricultural show, Made said winter wheat production has been affected by lack of irrigation equipment as damaged infrastructure has not been replaced.
“Wheat production has been on the decline also mainly due to lack of funds to repair electric motors and to maintain irrigation infrastructure,” the minister said.
Made said he was also concerned by electricity outages that have affected the crop, currently at flowering and grain filling stages. Power blackouts have increased following the July 31 national elections prompting the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority to issue out a statement denying it was deliberately “sabotaging” the economy.
Made said food production has remained a challenge for the government despite some efforts to fund the farmers, adding inputs will this year be distributed to every needy farmer so they can help improve food availability in the country.
He challenged tobacco farmers in the area to plant gum trees to use in curing their crop as a way to deal with growing environmental degradation caused by the wanton cutting down of trees.
Mashonaland West is the biggest producer of tobacco in the country with more than 54 million kilograms of the golden leaf coming for the province this year alone.