Govt seeks to rope in private sector in wheat production


GOVERNMENT yesterday encouraged the private sector to participate in wheat production in a bid to reduce the country’s cereal import bill.

Zimbabwe has, for years, been battling subdued local wheat production, which has seen the country forking out millions of foreign currency to import wheat.

Speaking at the Zimbabwe Wheat Board (ZWB) annual conference in Harare yesterday, Lands and Agriculture deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos said: “The government thrust is to see more millers and other private players joining contract farming to ensure 40% of raw materials are achieved by the private sector and they will get 60% from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).”

This year’s ZWB conference was held under the theme Consolidating the Gains of Quality Products.

Haritatos applauded farmers for last year’s good wheat yields.

GMB recorded 208 343 metric tonnes of wheat, with 60% of it of the premium grade.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union director for operations Prince Kuipa said farmers were facing financial challenges, a situation that is hindering them from buying equipment and inputs due to the high parallel exchange

“We have two exchange rates which are the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the parallel market exchange rate. That has been slowing us down from getting finance for equipment and procurement of tractors,” he said.

Kuipa said in order for the country to get good quality wheat, appropriate equipment was needed, while there should be enough inputs to ensure good yields and reduction of imported cereals.

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