ZIMBABWE is expecting a maize harvest of about 2,7 million tonnes during the 2016 /17 farming season boosted by the success of the Special Maize Programme commonly referred to as Command Agriculture. In total, about 1 770 389 hectares were put under maize during the 2016 /17 farming season, with anticipated maize yields of over 2 million tonnes. This, together with small grains should give over 2,7 million tonnes of grain this year, well above the national requirements of 1,8 million tonnes, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development said in its Treasury Quarterly Bulletin: January-March 2017.
Buoyed by the success of Command Agriculture during the 2016 /17 agriculture season, Government has embarked on a Special Winter Wheat Production programme similar to that of maize in an endeavour to reduce wheat imports.
The Special Winter Wheat Production programme is targeting 70 000 hectares at average yields of five tonnes per hectare and already 881 farmers with hectarage of more than 56 000 hectares have been registered.
“In addition, private financiers have contracted over 14 000 hectares for this season’s winter wheat crop,” the ministry said.
As a result therefore, wheat output is set to surpass 280 000 tonnes this season, “which will a go a long way in reducing imports, thus saving the country’s foreign currency”.
“This level of wheat production will be a huge leap from the current average planted area of 14 000 hectares for past three years producing wheat output of around 60 000 tonnes, annually,” according to the ministry bulletin.
Area put under tobacco increased by 7 percent to 110 000 hectares in 2017 from 102 000 hectares in 2016. Tobacco production in 2017, at 215 million kg, surpasses the previous year’s output of 203 million kg.
The marketing season opened with a price of $4,60 per kg on March 15, which was two percent higher than the opening price for the previous season of $4,50. Two weeks later, cumulative deliveries at auction floors stood at 17,9 million kg valued at $46,7 million compared to 12,9 million kg valued at $32 million for the same period last year.
“It is, therefore, anticipated that about $980 million will be realised by the end of the marketing season,” the ministry said.
For cotton, Government scaled up input support for cotton farmers targeting 400 000 households at a cost of about $36 million which is double last year’s input package.
Furthermore, the private sector provided cotton inputs worth about $4 million. The target is to attain total cotton output of above 100 000 tonnes during the 2016/17 season.
Revival of cotton production in the country is important as it sustains livelihoods of a significant number of small-scale commercial and communal farmers in the drier regions of the country.
Also, besides its significant contribution to export earnings and economic growth, cotton supports the ongoing resuscitation of the clothing manufacturing industry, especially in view of the ongoing implementation of the Cotton to Clothing Strategy.
The Cotton to Clothing Strategy is expected to provide solutions to the cotton sector challenges targeting a 390 percent increase to $110 million in exports of textiles and garments within the next four years. Government, in partnership with development partners and the private sector crafted the C2C strategy that is expected to help resuscitate the sector.
The C2C sector encompasses cotton farming, ginning, cotton fibre, spinning, textiles and clothing and also cotton seed production, seed processing, cotton seed oil industries and linters/hulls/meals processing.
The strategy aims to improve yearly seed-cotton production to reach 450 000 tonnes from the current 145 000 tonnes by 2019. It aims to resuscitate the cotton sector to reach over 70 percent increase in yields to at least 1 200kg/hectare.
The model of the strategy is to look at the whole cotton to clothing value chain, targeting to increase usage of available ginning capacities to attain 69,5 percent up from the current 20 percent and increase volumes of cotton fibre processed locally to 25 percent from the current 3-5 percent by 2019.