HARARE, May 28 — Production of winter wheat in Zimbabwe is expected to decline this year following a reduction in the area put under the grain this season to about 3,000 hectares from about 4,000 hectares last year, says Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Wonder Chabikwa.

He told New Ziana here Tuesday that the country should expect less wheat from the winter crop because farmers did not receive enough funding to grow the grain. It costs approximately 1,200 US dollars to grow a hectare of wheat in Zimbabwe against 230 USD in Ukraine and 600 USD 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 had projected that wheat production will improve by 17.6 per cent from 24,700 tones in 2013 to 29,000 tons in 2014.

Chabikwa said the deadline for planting wheat had passed and farmers should now concentrate on growing other crops. “We look at May 25 as the cutoff date. The crop has optimum planting date for optimum yields.
therefore urge farmers who could not meet the deadline to go for other crops like potatoes,” he added.

Reduced wheat production will result in shortages of some basic commodities and related agricultural products in the near future. Wheat production is estimated to have declined from 33,700 tons in 2012, to about 24,700 tons in 2013 because of a decline in the area planted from 11,600 hectares in 2012 to around 8,500 hectares 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 tones 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.