The second crop and livestock assessment report by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement says more than one million tonnes of grain are expected during the 2019/20 summer cropping season with maize production estimated to increase by 17 percent.
The estimated 1 060 142 tonnes of grain expected this season are not enough for human and livestock consumption as the country requires 1.7 million tonnes for human consumption and 450 000 tonnes for livestock.
Zimbabwe is already importing grain to meet national requirements.
From the 2019/20 season, farmers are expected to harvest about 907 628 tonnes of maize, 103 684 tonnes of sorghum, 39 032 tonnes of pearl millet and 9 799 tonnes of finger millet.
The report indicates that sorghum production is expected to increase by 158 percent from the 40 215 tonnes last season to 103 684 this season, pearl millet is expected to increase by 39 percent from the 28 047 percent last season to 39 032 tonnes, while an increase of 41 percent is expected in finger millet production.
Last season, farmers harvested 6 947 tonnes of finger millet. Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central have a surplus of cereal, while the rest of the provinces have deficits.
Mashonaland West is leading in terms of maize production as the province is expecting 309 984 tonnes, followed by Mashonaland Central, which is expected to produce 182 938 tonnes.
Mashonaland East and Midlands are expected to produce 129 385 and 123 162 tonnes of maize.
Communal farmers are expected to produce 291 867 tonnes of maize, A2 farmers 275 315 tonnes, A1 farmers 219 005 tonnes, old resettlement 88 354 tonnes, the small scale sector 27 235 tonnes and peri-urban farmers 5 768 tonnes.
Traditional grains production for the 2019/2020 season is estimated at 152 515 tonnes, which is 103 percent more compared to 75 209 tonnes in 2018/2019.
The increase in small grains production is attributed to increased support from the Presidential Input Scheme, encouragement by the ministry as well capacity building of farmers.
The growing of traditional grains is part of Government’s strategy towards ensuring that rural populations together with small-scale farmers engage in sustainable and profitable agricultural activities.
To boost production, the Grain Marketing Board has been buying traditional grains at almost the same price as maize. GMB is buying traditional grains at $16 725 per tonne, which is slightly higher than the $16 028 offered for a tonne of maize.
The country requires 1.7 million tonnes of maize and 450 000 tonnes for livestock consumption. Other crops expected this season include 87 479 tonnes of groundnuts, 23 832 tonnes of round nuts, 114 558 tonnes of sweet potatoes, 12 650 tonnes of sugar beans and 18 430 tonnes of cowpeas.
The total cereal production is 1 060 143 tonnes against a national cereal requirement of 2 227 782 tonnes for human and livestock consumption. Cereal requirement for livestock is estimated at 450 000 tonnes.
The 2019/2020 season was characterised by the late onset of rains across the country and false starts in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country which affected the crop establishment. Long dry spells in late December and January as well as the early cessation of the season negatively affected the planted crop.
Climate change has continued to affect agricultural production and this has prompted Government to promote a new farming concept called Pfumvudza to maximise productivity per unit area, even during drought periods, to ensure household and national food and nutritional security.
Pfumvudza involves the utilisation of small pieces of land and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
The approach can be used in marginal areas and still give high yields.