Zimbabwean farmers planted over 42 000 hectares of winter wheat this year and are likely to harvest more than half the annual requirement, legislators heard yesterday.
Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Dr John Basera said Government was excited by the condition of the crop planted across all provinces.
He told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Lands, Water and Rural Resettlement chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya MP, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena, yesterday: “I can tell you that our hactarage, for the first time in the past five years is likely going to exceed 42 000ha. I am not a good prophet. I can also give you an update that the general condition of the crop is quite good. The Ministry of Energy and Power Development has been supportive on electricity and fuel. We had a committee we set up to ensure constant supply of fuel and electricity to the farmers on Command Agriculture,” said Dr Basera.
“There was to some extent uninterrupted supply and we are likely going to break some records even in terms of productivity. I am not a good prophet but we might exceed five-and-a-half tonnes per hectare, so that would be some good news, especially if we exceed 42 000ha.”
Government’s initial target for this year was 80 000ha where 65 000ha was under Command Agriculture while 15 000ha would be private sector led. The target of 80 000ha was not met because of an array of challenges like late delivery of inputs and non-availability of adequate water sources.
Dr Basera said Government had also embarked on a winter maize programme where they registered 3 400ha out of a target of 4 000ha.
“We are planning to succeed and achieve 24 000 tonnes and using an import parity price of US$280, we are planning to produce maize worth US$6,7 million. The key objective here is import substitution,” he said.
During the presentation, there was a heated exchange between Dr Basera and legislators after he was requested to furnish them with list of beneficiaries of Command Agriculture. Dr Basera said he could not submit a list of beneficiaries because the information was confidential while legislators said they had a legitimate interest in knowing since the programme involved Government funds, over which they had an oversight role.
Cde Wadyajena gave Dr Basera two weeks to furnish the committee with the list.
However, Dr Basera appeared to stand his ground saying legislators should rather get the information from financial institutions.
Legislators also asked why CBZ Holdings was the only financial institution that participated in the Government supported Command Agriculture programme.–herald.cl.zw