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Production of winter wheat in Zimbabwe is expected to decline this year following a reduction in area put under the crop this winter from 4 000 hectares last year to about 3 000 hectares.Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said that the country should expect less wheat because farmers did not receive enough funding to grow the crop.

It costs approximately US$1 200 to grow a hectare of wheat in Zimbabwe against $230 in Ukraine and $600 in Australia.

“Summer crops were also harvested late so farmers could not prepare land on time for planting of the winter wheat. We expect about 3 000 hectares to be put under winter wheat. At the moment the planted crop is doing well and is at pillaring stage,” he said.

The Government has, however, projected that wheat production will improve by 17,6 percent from 24 700 tonnes in 2013 to 29 000 tonnes in 2014.

Mr Chabikwa said the deadline for planting wheat had passed so farmers should concentrate on growing other crops.

“We look at 25 May as the cut-off date. The crop has optimum planting date for optimum yields. I therefore, urge farmers, who could not meet the deadline to go for other horticulture crops like potatoes,” he said.

Reduced wheat production results in shortages of some basic commodities and related agricultural products in the near future.

Wheat production is estimated to have declined from 33 700 tonnes in 2012, to about 24 700 tonnes in 2013.This is on account of declines in the area planted from 11 600 hectares in 2012 to around 8 500 in 2013.

Challenges that have continued to affect production of the crop include erratic power supply for irrigation, funding and high costs of inputs.

Zimbabwe requires 400 000 tonnes of wheat annually and shortages mean that the country has to meet the shortfall with costly imports from countries such as South Africa and Zambia.

Source : The Herald

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