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May 31, 2008

Drastic decline in Zimbabwean wheat planting

Wheat farmers have failed to meet their target with only 13 percent of the original target having been met.

Agriculture Minister Mr Rugare Gumbo said as of May 23, only 8 963ha had been planted, lower than 18 989ha a year earlier, which translate to 13 percent of the targeted hectarage.

Authorities had set the target at 70 000ha.

"We have missed the target with challenges being shortages of fertilisers and fuel as well as frequent breakdowns of tillage facilities," said Mr Gumbo.

The minister said power cuts also affected preparations. May 10 is the recommended planting deadline for winter wheat.

"We should not expect much from any plantations after the deadline. In fact there are higher prospects of losing the entire crop that would be planted after the deadline," said an agriculture economist with a local bank.

About 22 000ha had been targeted in Mashonaland West Province and 1 798ha has been planted.

In Mashonaland Central, a target of 17 000ha had been set and 2 635ha has been planted so far. From the targeted hectarage of 12 000ha in Mashonaland East, 1 784ha were planted.

Manicaland target was 9 000ha but 1 110ha had been put under the crop by last Friday. Masvingo target was 2 500ha and only 348ha had been planted by last Friday.

Matabeleland North and South had a combined target of 3 500ha but 749ha have been planted so far.

"We will continue planting but it’s too late," Mr Gumbo said.

Some critics have already pointed out the target was likely to be missed, citing poor preparations.

The Herald

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