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‘Government failed to fund winter wheat production’

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GOVERNMENT has failed to fund winter wheat production for the 2013 season, said Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) president Wonder Chabikwa.

Report by Tarisai Mandizha

In an interview with NewsDay, Chabikwa said to date farmers had only planted 2 000 hectares of wheat as compared to 4 000 hectares planted in 2012.

The country has an annual wheat consumption of 450 000 tonnes. “Winter wheat for this year has been a dismal failure. We have planted 2 000 hectares because there has been no funding for wheat this year from both government and the millers,” said Chabikwa. He said the deadline for plantation was May 25, 2013.

“We expect farmers to have finished planting. May 25 was supposed to be the last date for planting and if there is any planting this year it will be insignificant,” he said.

Chabikwa said the issue of funding was the major setback for winter wheat production as power providers assured to make available 50% of uninterrupted power supply.

He, however, said due to late rains, farmers were in the process of harvesting their crops and as a result of this farmers failed to finance winter wheat production.

Commercial Famers’ Union president Charles Taffs said less than 4 000 hectares of wheat had been planted for the 2013 winter wheat season due to a variety of problems.

“They is a problem, very little planting have been done that less than 4 000 hectares were planted.

“It’s ue to a range of problems electricity, crop viability and lack of funding,” said Taffs.

He said there was need to address the whole agricultural sector for winter wheat to be viable.

He, however, said it was not government’s responsibility to fund wheat, but farmers required security to be able to access funding from the local banking institutions.

“We need to look for lines of credit, it’s not government’s responsibility, but farmers need security of tenure,” he said.

The Finance minister Tendai Biti has said government does not allocate funds for winter wheat, but only makes funds available for farmers. “We don’t allocate funds, but what we simply do is we make funds available, Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank) and CBZ have money,” said Biti.

He said funds were available at Agribank and CBZ to fund winter wheat production.

“Winter wheat is a commercial crop, it’s not for poor people and we can’t give subsidies,” said Biti.

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