An estimated 90 000 tonnes of wheat have been harvested and delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), representing about a quarter of this year’s projected winter wheat harvest, Government has confirmed.
Over 95 percent of the cereal has now reached maturity stage, with the authorities advising farmers to speed up harvesting before the onset of the rainy season.
Already, farmers have lost wheat valued at over US$900 000 to veld fires.
Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services chief director Professor Obert Jiri told The Sunday Mail that nearly 90 000 tonnes of the cereal had been delivered to the GMB by October 27.
“To date, our farmers have delivered 89 000 tonnes of wheat to the GMB, and we are happy that we have no transport challenges,” said Prof Jiri.
“We have witnessed a slow start to the selling season because the production was delayed due to the late maturity of the summer season crops.
“But everything is in order and our farmers are on the ground, making sure the grain is harvested before the rains.”
About 59 percent of the crop delivered to the GMB has been classified as standard grade wheat, while the rest was categorised as premium grade.
In an interview, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos urged farmers to take advantage of combine harvesters provided by the Government.
“We recently lost more than US$900 000 of wheat to veld fires,” he said.
“This will not adversely affect our projected harvest target. However, one cent lost is one cent too much, so we need to avert any more losses going forward.
“Farmers need to utilise the available combine harvesters that were distributed by the Government for wheat harvesting to avoid losses caused by rain.”
Wheat harvesting, he said, was presently in full swing countrywide. According to the Meteorological Services Department, this year’s rainy season is expected to start during the second week of November.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said rainfall compromises the quality of wheat.
“The wheat will no longer be suitable for producing flour but can be used as stockfeed and this will affect our goal of wheat self-sufficiency,” he said.
He urged farmers to finish harvesting as early as possible.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said: “We are in a celebratory mood for having achieved the Government’s targeted hectarage.
“What is left is for farmers to speed up harvesting and avoid losses.
“In all things to do with agriculture, farmers are advised to be on time and work with local experts, who will give advice on the spot.”
Zimbabwe has an annual wheat requirement of about 360 000 tonnes, while this year’s harvest is projected to be above 380 000 tonnes.
The Government deployed over 110 combine harvesters to 20 centres countrywide to facilitate timely harvests.