Government Predicts Low Rainfall, Says It's Taking Action To Ensure Grain Production Targets Are Met

1 week ago
Sun, 17 Sep 2023 07:54:02 GMT
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Government Predicts Low Rainfall, Says It's Taking Action To Ensure Grain Production Targets Are Met

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera said the government is taking decisive action to ensure the country meets its grain production targets for the 2023-2024 summer cropping season, despite the forecast of below-average rainfall.

He said over 360,000 tonnes of agricultural inputs have been mobilised, including seed and fertilizers, to support smallholder farmers under the Climate-Proofed Presidential Input Scheme.

He said with the likelihood of the El Niño weather phenomenon affecting the cropping season, efforts are being made to distribute inputs in advance, rehabilitate irrigation schemes, and promote climate-smart agriculture. Currently, over 203,000 hectares of land are irrigable, and the goal is to cultivate every available irrigable inch with maize, while also incorporating traditional grains like sorghum and pearl millet. The target is to produce 3,512,658 tonnes of cereal, which would meet the country’s consumption requirements. Basera said:

Government has already started rolling out the summer cropping season plan for the year 2023/2024.

In light of the predicted normal to below-normal rainfall, the Government has adopted a plan of action dubbed AMA — Adaptation, Mitigation, Action.

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AMA encompasses a set of initiatives whose thrust focusses on action and deployment of Going4Growth-plus measures as we gear for the 2023/2024 season.

He added that the government’s measures include fast-tracking the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure, implementing the Pfumvudza/Intwasa program nationwide, and promoting climate-smart feed formulations on farms. Basera emphasised cultivating every available irrigable inch of land with maize and intensifying in-field water and moisture harvesting.

He said the government plans to improve season preparedness through early distribution of inputs based on agro-ecological potential. There will be a focus on growing traditional/small grains, and the adoption of good agricultural practices (GAPs) is encouraged for better resilience. Dr. Basera expressed confidence in a productive season, highlighting the importance of timely input distribution. Seed, fertilizers, and agrochemicals are sufficient to support the 2023/2024 summer cropping plan.

According to a report by the Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services (AARDS), the authorities have accumulated stocks of:

  • 15,569 tonnes of maize seed
  • 15,370 tonnes of sorghum seed
  • 167,022 tonnes of Compound D fertiliser
  • 167,022 tonnes of topdressing fertiliser

Seed and fertiliser manufacturers and distributors have indicated readiness for the cropping season. Valley Seeds spokesperson Mr Tich Maponga stated that there is sufficient seed available, with efforts made to process, package, and distribute it efficiently. Fertiliser Seed Grain (FSG) has increased basal fertiliser production and is distributing it to Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots. Various farmer support programmes have been established, including the National Enhanced Agricultural Productivity Scheme, the Presidential Input Support Programme, and initiatives by the Food Crops Contractors Association and the government’s emergency food production programme.

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