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Grains harvest to hit record levels

by Staff reporter
01 Mar 2021 at 04:48hrs | Views
Zimbabwe is on course for a record traditional grains harvest of 500 000 tonnes this year as the country inches towards attaining food security on the back of the highly successful Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.

The anticipated bumper harvest also comes on the back of a good rainy season with most parts of the country receiving normal to above normal rains.

Government has been encouraging farmers, especially in low rainfall and arid areas, to prioritise traditional grains for their drought tolerance and high nutritional value.

The expected bumper traditional grains harvest, coupled with an equally good staple maize crop harvest, are expected to entrench food security in line with Vision 2030 which seeks to eliminate food imports.

According to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement Dr Anxious Masuka, the country is poised for a record yield of sorghum, pearl and finger millet this year. Minister Masuka said the anticipated bumper harvest augured well with Government's plans to make Zimbabwe a net food exporter.

"For traditional grains that is sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet, we are expecting 500 000 tonnes this year which is a record for the country."

Traditional grains, according to Dr Masuka, had high nutritional value and were climate smart and drought tolerant. He said the expected high output of traditional grains created scope to substitute maize for them in producing animal feed. An average 450 000 tonnes of maize annually go towards animal feed production in the country and bumper traditional grains production means that maize will instead be reserved for human consumption.

"While traditional grains are good for nutrition, drought-tolerant and climate smart their high production means they could substitute maize in the production of feed."

"On average per year, about 450 000 tonnes of maize towards producing that feed but a bumper harvest of traditional grains means that we reserve that maize for human consumption and instead use traditional grains for feed," said Dr Masuka.

He commended Lowveld sugar producer Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe for a successful sorghum project which would shore up aggregate national traditional grains output.

Tongaat, in partnership with Government and Masvingo Development Trust, had initially earmarked to put 1 500 hectares under sorghum on land cleared for the Kilimanjaro Sugar Cane project.

"We are happy that Tongaat managed to put 750ha under sorghum out of the initial target 1 500ha but incessant rains derailed those plans but that sorghum hectarage is unprecedented and we are pleased with what they have done."

"Under normal circumstances, that land (cleared for Kilimanjaro Cane Project) would have been fallow right now until the start of the cane planting season but they decided to use it to produce sorghum," said Dr Masuka.

The sorghum project by Tongaat also produced a lot of stover key in producing supplementary food for livestock in drought-prone Chikombedzi.

Tongaat temporarily turned land the firm had cleared for the US$40 million Kilimanjaro Cane project at Hippo Valley to grow sorghum and winter maize at the behest of Government which asked for the sugar producer to help in ending food shortages caused by recurrent droughts.

Source - the herald