Zimbabwe Achieves a Record Wheat Production


Jun 12, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

Wheat is grown entirely under irrigation during winter, which runs from May to July before the crop is harvested from October to December. From October to March, farmers plant other crops, such as soya beans and corn, in Zimbabwe during the rainy season. In 2022, more than 80,000 hectares of agricultural land was put under Wheat production nationwide, with many new farmers venturing into the sector.

Zimbabwe’s Wheat production is centered mainly on the country’s northern parts such as Mashonaland Central (33%), Mashonaland West (32%), Mashonaland East (12%), and Manicaland (9%), and Midlands (7%). Wheat yield was 4.6 tons per hectare in 2021/2022 and is expected to decline to 4.0 tons per hectare in 2022/2023.      

Zimbabwe has achieved a record in Wheat production by harvesting 375,000 metric tons (mt) at the end of 2022, making the landlocked country in southern Africa a self-sufficient agricultural powerhouse, which is a unique performance on the continent. However, this bumper harvest has left farmers struggling to prepare for the next farming season and settle their debts due to the millions of US dollars owed by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), a State-owned Grain trade and marketing company.

Figures from the GMB show that as of mid-November 2022, the parastatal had received 120,000mt of Wheat worth over Z$25m and Z$30bn (US$37.5m). About 22% of the delivered Wheat has been paid for, with the remaining 78% still to be paid, according to GMB officials. For the standard grade of Wheat, the Southern African nation’s most strategic crop after corn, GMB is paying a price of Z$243,680 (US$304) plus US$200 per ton.

The harvest in 2022 was 13% higher than the previous year, breaking a half-century-old record. The area sown to Wheat has increased by 10%, and, above all, the state has set up a policy of distributing fertilizer and buying crops via a public body, the Grain Marketing Board, which has won over farmers. Hence, Zimbabwe no longer needs to import Wheat to meet its needs, saving up to 300 million dollars in import costs. In the current context, where African countries suffer from the absence or high cost of Russian and Ukrainian Wheat, Zimbabwe stands out for its proactive policy.

However, although the country can pride itself on being a unique example in Africa for Wheat, not everything is rosy. The Grain Marketing Board is having the worst difficulties paying farmers. Less than a quarter of the crop has been purchased, despite Government assurances and the release of emergency funds. The Corn sector, the main cereal consumed in the country, is also progressing but remains insufficient to meet national needs. According to some experts, Zimbabwe’s agricultural yields remain below the African average.

“For the first time in our country since 2004, we have never had such a bumper harvest of Wheat. We are looking at high yields,” Zimbabwe’s Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, commented. “We are not yet looking at exporting, but we are happy that what we produce this year will cover more than a year of consumption.”

Wheat Import in Zimbabwe

In 2021, Zimbabwe imported Wheat worth $84.7 million, becoming the world’s 81st largest importer of Wheat. In the same year, Wheat was Zimbabwe’s 16th most imported product. Zimbabwe imports Wheat primarily from: South Africa ($17.7 million), Australia ($17.2 million), Russia ($13.9 million), Lithuania ($11.6 million), and Canada ($7.89 million).
The fastest-growing import markets in Wheat for Zimbabwe between 2020 and 2021 were Australia ($17.2 million), Lithuania ($11.6 million), and Russia ($10.9 million).

Other sources: THE AFRICA REPORT

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