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October 08, 2011

Zimbabwe maize production in four-fold increase since 2008, tobacco five-fold

Zimbabwe's finance minister Tendai Biti, speaking in parliament in answer to questions about government support for maize farmers, said,  "In 2008 the maize production was 400 000 metric tonnes but in 2011 the production of maize stands at 1,5 million metric tonnes. It could have been 1,7 million metric tonnes but because of the drought between December 2010 and January 2011 we lost 11 percent of hectarage.''

"The second crop is tobacco. In 2008 we produced 34 million kg and in 2011 our expected delivery will be 174 million kg and as I stand here 134 million kg have been delivered. In fact, with all the crops and livestock in Zimbabwe there has been a fundamental increase in production between 2008 and 2011 with the exception of two crops, tea and coffee. Even milk has risen to 94 million litres although this is still below the over 200 million that we need," he said.

Zimbabwe, he added, was set to meet its target of 500 000 tonnes of strategic grain reserves due to increased deliveries to GMB.

Minister Biti said Government had spent US$1,9 billion on agriculture since 2008, adding that they are also crafting an input scheme for vulnerable groups and large scale and A2 farmers this farming season.

Government had released US$10 million to pay farmers that have delivered grain but part of the money they are owed would be offset by inputs.

"What we have done is that we are gathering inputs to the tune of US$30 million and a farmer can liquidate his indebtedness with seed and fertiliser. But we will be able to pay any cent we owe by December 31 in the year of our Lord 2011," he said.

Minister Biti, however, took a swipe at the GMB for having a large salary bill that is chewing upUS$10 million a month. The parastatal would soon be unbundled into two companies dealing with collection of the strategic grain reserve and the other commercial activities.

Minister Biti, however, said the long term solution to ensure that farmers are paid on time was to have a commodity exchange.

The Herald

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