Govt reforms spur wheat and tobacco production to record levels

Story by Owen Mandovha

ZIMBABWE’s agriculture growth plan is on track, with the government presiding over success stories in key sub-sectors of the industry.

Just three years ago when the foreign exchange auction system was set up by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, grain millers were common bidders of foreign currency to import wheat due to subdued local production of the key commodity.

Today, Zimbabwe finds itself in a special club of only two African countries that are wheat self-sufficient as agriculture sector reforms instituted by the Second Republic are bearing fruit.

“As a Ministry, we have presided over the revival of the wheat sector as now, we and Ethiopia are the inky two African countries self-sufficient in wheat production. We have incentivised farmers to increase their hectarage on top of various new innovative ways to fund wheat farming. Every year we set a target, together with careful planning to guarantee wheat production,” said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development, Dr John Basera.

“The Wheat Board is responsible for the promotion of local wheat consumption and we have noted an upsurge of wheat production over the last few years on the back of reforms implemented by Government. This is good news for millers as they are not relying on imports,” said the chairperson of the Wheat Board, Mr George Mesoemvura.

In the tobacco sector, a record tobacco output set in the year 2000 was broken in 2019 when 259 million kilogrammes were produced.

The good times are set to roll with the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) set to preside over another record milestone this year.

“As a regulator, we have implemented the measures contained in the tobacco industry value chain transformation strategy which include innovative funding, and incentives for local farmers and this year alone we have already surpassed the 230 million kilograms target set by the government this year. We are indeed moving towards the 300 million kilograms target set in the strategy,” said TIMB’s Acting CEO, Mr Emmanuel Matsvaire.

The citrus sector whose value chain had completely broken down got a major lifeline by way of a breakthrough export deal with China which is set to revise local production.

The restoration of the national herd has also been recorded on the back of the implementation of the livestock recovery growth plan, which sought to incentivise livestock farming but also deals with the scourge of cattle diseases, which had decimated the national herd.

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