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Wheat harvesting in full swing

Farmers have now harvested more than 71,5 percent of last winter’s wheat crop, with 252 775 tonnes already harvested and 5 000 tonnes a day being trucked into the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) each day.

In some parts of the country, harvesting was slightly delayed by the recent rains, said the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development.

Wheat needs to be dry when harvested.

A total of 252 775 tonnes of wheat have been harvested so far from the 47 521 hectares planted by farmers this year.

Agritex director Mr Stancilae Tapererwa said the recent rains received in some parts of the country had slowed harvesting of wheat.

Wheat is financed from several sources.

Mr Tapererwa said under National Enhanced Agriculture Productivity Scheme (NEAPS), commonly known as Command Agriculture, farmers planted 44 295 hectares and of this, 31 942 hectares had been harvested at an average yield of 5,5 tonnes per hectare, giving 176 879 tonnes of wheat already harvested from the NEAPS programme.

The Presidential Inputs Scheme supported 5 447 hectares of wheat and so far, farmers have harvested 3 830 hectares producing 10 960 tonnes an average yield of 2,9 tonnes per hectare.

Wheat farmers funded by the private sector planted 16 662 hectares, with 11 749 hectares having been harvested producing 64 936 tonnes.

This season, the Government through the Agricultural Finance Company (AFC) Leasing Company and the private sector is helping farmers with combine harvesters.

“The plan for harvesting is there for the first time in so many years,” said Mr Tapererwa. “There is a plan for combine harvesters from the private sector and the AFC facility. We are aware of the regions that produced wheat and the expected dates for harvesting. We have a plan for harvesting and scheduling.”

The issue of combine harvesters is well divided between the Government funded sector and private sector. This season the wheat was planted at different times and this will reduce pressure on the combine harvesters.

GMB has found that the bulk of the wheat being delivered to its depots is of the premium grade, so farmers earn more.

GMB pays $55 517,69 per tonne for ordinary grade wheat at a 15 percent return on investment, and $66 621,22 per tonne for premium grade.

The parastatal has designated 18 depots around the country as collection points for wheat.

About 300 000 tonnes of wheat are expected from this year’s winter cropping season to add to the carry-over stocks of 70 000 tonnes.

The country requires 360 000 tonnes of wheat annually.

The largest single harvest in history was in 1990 when 325 000 tonnes were harvested.

The record is expected to be broken next year as the harvest expansion seen over the last two seasons continues.

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