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Sorghum Intake Exceeds Highest Tonnage Since Independence: Govt

The Government said the 2021 traditional grains production has improved remarkably and some crops exceeded the highest ever tonnage since independence.

Addressing journalists during a Post Cabinet Media briefing Tuesday Information Minister Monica Mutvsngagwa said Mashonaland West Province has the highest maize and soyabean intake, while Mashonaland Central has the highest traditional grains intake.

“Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that positive developments are continuing,” Mutsvangwa said.

“Selected GMB (Grain Marketing Board) depots have now introduced 24-hour shifts to accelerate grain intake and reduce the waiting time for farmers. Collections are being ramped up in all areas of high grain output. The current sorghum intake of 89 573 metric tonnes has exceeded the highest ever tonnage since independence, which was the 82 013 metric tonnes delivered in the 1985-86 marketing season.

“Efforts to curtail side marketing are continuing, and a total of 3 258 MT (metric tonnes) of maize has been seized from 241 individuals for breaking S.I. (Statutory Instrument) 145 of 2019, while 1 489 MT of soyabeans have been seized from 62 individuals for breaking S.I. 79 of 2011.”

Mutsvangwa told journalists the winter wheat crop was generally good across all provinces, and the major activities on the farms include spraying of chemicals for pest control, top dressing, and routine irrigation.

“There is adequate water in the dams for crop irrigation. Early planted wheat is now at the hard dough stage in most provinces. The producer price will be announced in due course.

“From the 66 435. 86 hectares planted under the presidential inputs scheme, NEAPS/Command/CBZ Agro-Yield, and Private Sector schemes at a yield level of 4.5 tonnes per hectare, the country expects 298 961 MT, against the national requirement of 360 000 MT. GMB has commenced preparations for wheat intake and has designated 18 intake depots in that regard.

“The allocation of combine harvesters and transporters is being finalised by AFC and GMB. Harvesting of the early-planted wheat is expected to start from mid-September onwards, and fuel for the contracted farmers is being made available on time.”

Commenting on the quelea bird menace which has remained a major threat in all provinces, Mutsvangwa said farmers are accessing bird shield chemicals from the GMB.

“The use of drones to complement knapsack spraying has been adopted to improve efficiency and reduce costs as efforts to save the crop from the migratory birds continue. Cabinet has also approved that a Migratory Pest Control Unit be established as a department in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement to ensure surveillance of all important pests (quelea, locust, and armyworm); train farmers on surveillance; react to outbreaks timely; coordinate stakeholder efforts; and mobilise resources for adequate and effective responses. Current wheat stocks are sufficient until the next harvest, expected from mid-September.

“On tobacco, the Cabinet noted with satisfaction that nearly 67 025 farmers have registered for the 2021/22 tobacco season, compared to the 57 252 farmers who had registered at the same time last year, reflecting a 17% increase. As of 31 August 2021, cumulative sales were 208 816 935 kg, with prices being 12% firmer than last year, due to improved quality offerings by farmers.

“These deliveries have already surpassed 184 million kilogrammes received last year by 13.5%. The value of the tobacco deliveries is also 28% higher than last year,” Mutsvangwa said.

“As part of the localisation of the financing of tobacco, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) is contracting 50 000 ha, up from the 12 000 ha contracted last year. This is estimated to cost US$60 million, and will be financed by local banks, including the Agricultural Finance Company.” ZoneAxis

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