The government of Zimbabwe is planning to export maize, following a bumper harvest that surpassed the targeted yield per hectare under the country’s Command Agriculture Program, an agricultural scheme aimed at ensuring food security in the country.
On Tuesday, the majority of farmers in Mashonaland Central Province harvested at least 9 to 11 tons of maize per hectare, surpassing the government’s target of five tons per hectare, according to the state-owned Chronicle newspaper.
“The primary thing is to ensure that our country has sufficient food. When we have reached the levels that we are satisfied that we can feed ourselves sustainably and have any extra, we can export that extra because exports are the foreign currency earners,” said Zimbabwe’s Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Justin Mupamhanga.
Mupamhanga also said the Zimbabwean government is optimistic that the yield will continue to grow by 2 million tons annually over the next three years; by these projections, Zimbabwe is expected to have 1.5 million tons of maize in its reserves in three years, a surplus which will be considered for export.
According to Mupamhanga, the government is already putting in place the necessary measures to ensure farmers are provided with farm inputs in good time as they prepare for the next planting season.
The inputs will be provided by Sakunda Holdings, a private company in Zimbabwe that funds the Command Agriculture Program.
“I know that the funder of this program is developing a package to ensure that farmers get a whole package for the farming season,” Mupamhanga said.
Sakunda is estimated to have already invested $199 million in to the program, which started in August 2016.
The scheme targets farmers near water bodies who have the capacity to put a minimum of 200 hectares under maize per individual. Currently, a total of 2,000 Zimbabwean farmers are already benefiting from the program.
Each farmer is required to produce at least 1,000 tons of maize and commit 5 tons per hectare to the repayment of advanced loans given to them in the form of irrigation equipment, inputs, chemicals, and other charges.
This year’s harvest comes as a relief to millions of Zimbabweans who have endured a prolonged drought occasioned by the El Nino weather phenomenon that affected many parts of southern Africa last year.
It is also good news to the cash-strapped Zimbabwean government whose leader, President Robert Mugabe, is currently facing serious rebuff from a section of the citizenry who accuse him of mismanaging the country’s economy.