Following the success of Maize Command Agriculture Programme, the wheat programme is also headed for success as witnessed by farming progress in various provinces.
Mashonaland West Province almost doubled this season’s hectarage compared to last year, while Mashonaland East Province is just short of the target.
At Kudenga farm in Marondera, one farmer, Kuda Kudenga has 80 hectares of wheat under the Command Agriculture Programme and is confident of a good harvest.
“There were a lot of improvements logistically in the wheat programme and I am confident of a good harvest,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by farm manager, Simon Lazarus who said he is happy with the crop they have and are expecting a bumper harvest.
Mashonaland East Province has 5181 hectares of wheat under the Command Agriculture Programme against a target of 8000 hectares.
There are also 1976 hectares of wheat from private players.
In Mashonaland West Province, the wheat hectarage this season has increased to 11 412, compared to 6388 in 2016.
This is largely attributed to the timeous provision of inputs to farmers under the Command Agriculture Wheat Programme.
At Baguta farm in Makonde district, the hectarage went up to 270 this season compared to about 180 which the farmer usually puts under production.
Baguta farm manager, Mr Lovemore Johanne said the whole hectarage was supported by the Command Agriculture Programme, adding that 100 hectares of the crop has already had top dressing fertiliser applied as inputs were readily available.
Production to cut import bill
Low wheat production in the past had seen the country importing huge quantities of the cereal crop but the problem is set to be averted as more farmers who had abandoned growing the crop are bouncing back thanks to the command wheat programme.
The production of wheat and other cereal crop like barley had witnessed a sharp decline in past years owing to a number of challenges, but is now on the recovery path after government intervention.
Some farmers who benefited under the command wheat programme described the initiative as a morale booster to farmers who had quit growing the crop, adding that it will have tangible downstream benefits in reducing the price of bread and products of wheat, while job opportunities will also be obtained.
Others praised the command wheat programme as the way to go as it will cut the huge wheat import bill which has been bleeding the country’s foreign reserve for a long time.
The import bill for wheat has been running into $100 million every year.
With expectations high that the command wheat programme can achieve 200 000 tonnes this season, against the country’s requirement of about 350 000 to 400 000 tonnes, the government will be able to save a big chunky of forex this season.