Wheat harvesting expedited

ADEQUATE fuel and 248 combine harvesters have been mobilised to bring in the record wheat harvest expeditiously before the main rains set in.

With incidences of veld fires coming down, rains have been experienced in some parts of the country.

While the risk of fire damage is now significantly diminished and the sporadic early falls have not affected the wheat, the harvest may suffer if still in the field with near continuous rain.

Wheat needs to be harvested in clear weather. Zimbabwe is on the cusp of harvesting a record 380 000 tonnes of wheat after a record hectarage was put under the crop, and this will be the first time since commercial wheat growing started in 1966 that self-sufficiency will be reached.

If all goes well there will be a carryover surplus, enough for an extra 20 days consumption, before next year’s harvest is brought in. Speaking after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said: “Cabinet is pleased that veld fire incidents continue to decline and that the recent sporadic rains experienced across the country have not damaged the winter wheat crop. “A total of 248 combine harvesters and fuel have been mobilised to expedite the harvesting of wheat in the face of impending rains.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said GMB wheat stocks already stand at 159 706 tonnes, enough to provide 6,3 months’ cover at a consumption rate of 21 000 tonnes per month. Besides the GMB stocks, which are still growing as the harvesting continues, millers have their own stocks after they contracted farmers to grow a reasonable proportion of their requirements.

Despite the erratic rains last summer, the GMB still has adequate stocks to cope until the next harvest towards the middle of next year.

By the end of October, the GMB held stocks of 569 259 tonnes of summer grains, comprising 489 073 tonnes of maize and 80 186 tonnes of traditional grains.

“Using the monthly consumption rate of 49 294 tonnes, the available grain will last for 11,5 months,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.

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