THE Zimbabwe Wheat Board (ZWB) has pleaded with government to intervene over the soaring costs of wheat production.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The ZWB yesterday met acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured), where they pleaded with him to deal with electricity and water tariffs negatively impacting wheat farmers in terms of production costs.
Speaking to journalists after meeting Mnangagwa, ZWB board chairman Givemore Mesoemvura said wheat production, its use, costs, and wheat imports were some of the issues that they raised to Mnangagwa.
“We found ourselves agreeing that there is a need for each of the value chain players to look at their costs with a view to reducing the cost of production which has made us uncompetitive on the regional and global market. So, these are some of the things we are looking at and informing him (Mnangagwa) of our activities that we have undertaken,” Mesoemvura said.
“They (wheat farmers) have challenges from electricity tariffs, water tariffs and even the technical knowhow and this is where they require capacity building. This is where we are going to be working with them to ensure that their capacity is enhanced and also the cost of electricity and water, at the least the tariffs, come down those are the major costs.”
He said in the current season, land under wheat was 44 000 hectares which was estimated to produce between 100 and 120 metric tonnes by the end of the year.
Other board members confirmed to NewsDay that the issue of production costs was one of the issues highlighted in the meeting with Mnangagwa.
According to them, Mnangagwa showed commitment in tackling some of their concerns, but as part of the command agriculture programme.
Despite the cost of production being high, the price of bread is not expected to go up.
Meanwhile Mesoemvura said wheat farmers were in support of the food fortification programme, despite the necessary nutrients having to be imported.
“All the other countries are doing it (food fortification), so we have to find a way of managing the costs so that it does not become a burden on the consumers. But, we will work on our costs structures and accommodate those minute costs of the nutrients that are going to be added,” he said.
On average, it costs $1 500 to plant one hectare of wheat in Zimbabwe while according to the United States Department of Agriculture research the average cost of production per hectare is about $790.