By Tendai Munengwa
HARVESTING of wheat is well on course with 96 000 tonnes of the cereal crop having been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots countrywide so far.
Latest statistics from the GMB show that 96 000 of wheat have been received, which is just above 20 per cent of the anticipated output of 380 000 tonnes for this year.
A survey by ZBC News in the wheat greenbelts revealed that the early planted wheat has been cleared, while farmers are now harvesting the bulk of the remaining crop which is at different levels of maturity.
The farmers are racing against time considering that the rainy season is almost upon us.
“Yes, it seems the rains are upon us and we need to move with speed to clear the wheat so that we save it from the rains,” one of the farmers told ZBC News.
Another added, “As you can see, the bulk of the wheat is now maturing, but the rains appear to be around the corner. So, we pray that we manage to clear the wheat on time.”
Agriculture analysts commended the high production levels achieved in wheat but called for farmers and the government to expedite harvesting and avoid rainfall-induced losses.
“This year, we had a good plan on production levels, but we need to improve on adopting proper agronomic practices – planting and harvesting on time of wheat is critical than losing a percentage of it to rains year in and year out,” said Paul Zakaria, Zimbabwe Farmers Union Secretary General.
“Now that the rains are falling in some parts of the country where there is wheat, there is a need for any action plan to avail combine harvesters to all places where wheat requires harvesting,” said Edward Chimedza, agriculture analyst.
With normal rains predicted to start falling by the second week of November, observers have called for concerted efforts from the government, farmers and other stakeholders to mitigate against post-harvest losses.