Zimbabwe’s wheat production has declined over the years, especially as the cost of electricity continues to sky-rocket, affecting hard-pressed farmers who are owed thousands of dollars by the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told parliament Wednesday the government is working hard to address challenges facing wheat farmers.
With its cash problems, the government can only encourage millers and bakers, who have been buying cheap imports, to buy locally as a way of boosting production in the country. This would also reduce shortages.
Made said most crops such soya beans, barley and tobacco are supported by the users of the crops and wheat should not be an exception.
Made said the ministries of agriculture and finance have engaged millers encouraging them to contract farmers to grow wheat.
This, he said, would help boost wheat production, allowing the country’s millers to cut down on imports.
About 40,000 hectares of land are expected to be put under wheat production this season, costing farmers $88 million. The government says it will contribute $30 million of the amount required to produce a 160,000 metric tonnes of wheat.
Beneficiaries of government support, said Made, should have functional irrigation facilities and enough land as part of set requirements to access the money.
Made said the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) should guarantee farmers with uninterrupted power supplies for the winter season to be a success.
It costs at least $500 of electricity to produce a hectare of wheat, a figure farmers charge is too high.