Zimbabwe wheat production seen at record low
Zimbabwe is set to produce even less wheat than in 2009. Last year they reached the amazing figure of 15 000 tonnes and this year they are forecast to output just 10 000 tonnes. The country needs between 400 000 and 450 000 tonnes to feed its well-to-do citizens (who are fleeing into South Africa as we speak). But, never fear because Mad Bob has a plan! And what is that plan you ask me? Well, duh! To get rid of more white farmers! Makes perfect African sense to me…
Zimbabwe is set to record its lowest ever wheat output of about 10 000 tonnes this year due to lack of funding and continued upheavals on commercial farms, a farmers’ union said on Wednesday.
Wheat is Zimbabwe’s second staple grain, after maize, but the country – a regional breadbasket before President Robert Mugabe’s drive to seize land from whites to resettle landless blacks – has failed to meet its annual consumption requirements of between 400 000 and 450 000 tonnes.
Last year, Zimbabwe produced about 15 000 tonnes of wheat, according to the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), although government projections put the figure four times higher.
The CFU which represents the few remaining white farmers in the country, said Zimbabwe would need to meet almost its entire wheat requirements through imports.
“The winter wheat situation is incredibly serious. We always used to produce in the region of 250 000-300 000 tonnes, there was always a small deficit,” CFU vice-president Charles Taffs told reporters.
“However, with this year’s plantings we see that this country will produce no more than 10 000 tonnes of wheat. In other words, we are going to have to import in the region of 390 000-400 000 tonnes of wheat to meet our internal consumption requirements.”
A huge grain import bill would exert pressure on Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government, set up by Mugabe and bitter his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, which is battling to reverse a decade of economic decline
The unity government has said it needs over $10 billion aid to fix the economy, but most donors are holding out on funding the fragile coalition, pressing for more reforms and watching for signs Mugabe is ready to genuinely share power.
Taffs said the forecast wheat yield would be the lowest on record, equivalent to just over a week’s consumption.
The CFU says continued disturbances on the farms and lack of funding to purchase seed and fertiliser had resulted in a drastic reduction in the planted hectarage.
Frequent power cuts were also affecting much of the irrigated winter wheat crop.
“Productive farming is on the verge of collapse, there is no investor confidence where security of tenure is uncertain,” Taffs said.
The eviction of white farmers continues unabated, with 16 more forced off farms in the past four days, Taffs added.
Critics say Mugabe’s land seizures triggered the collapse of Zimbabwe’s once vibrant commercial farming sector, with the production of most major crops falling sharply.
Aid agencies say millions of Zimbabweans still rely on food handouts, despite some improvement in the production of the staple maize crop, which reached 1.5 million tonnes in the 2009-2010 farming season according to government figures.