Zimbabwe is targeting to produce 3 million metric tonnes of the staple maize grain in the forthcoming 2022/2023 summer cropping season and will start farming preparations early in order to deal with perennial challenges around food security in the country, a cabinet minister said Tuesday.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post-cabinet media briefing that farming preparations for the forthcoming season will start this month, instead of August to give farmers and stakeholders ample time to prepare.
Zimbabwe’s summer cropping season usually runs from November to April.
Mutsvangwa said the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, as well as geopolitical conflicts had disrupted global supply chains for grain and agricultural inputs, with the resultant price escalations highlighting the need to intensify local production.
“Accordingly, the main objective of the 2022/2023 summer program is to sustainably increase crop and livestock production,” she said.
She said the government was targeting to produce 3 million metric tonnes of maize for the 2022 / 2023 summer season, a combined 467,000 metric tonnes for traditional grains; 140,000 metric tonnes for soybeans; 82,500 metric tonnes for sunflower and 350,000 metric tonnes for groundnuts.
Cotton and tobacco production is also expected to more than double on previous production levels, she said.
Production of potato and sunflower seeds will be enhanced, while the consumption of traditional foods will be promoted as part of the Food Systems Transformation Strategy by sensitizing the population, especially the youth, on the diverse and nutritive value of traditional grains that are naturally fortified and organically grown.
Last year, Zimbabwe produced 2.8 million tonnes of maize, a record output in recent years, against national consumption of 1.8 million tonnes annually after a good rainfall season.
Tobacco output, one of the country’s major foreign currency earners, was at 211 million kg last year while cotton production stood at 116,052 tonnes from 82,479 tonnes in 2020.
Maize output for 2022 is yet to be established as harvesting is still underway, but indications are that it could be slightly lower than last year due to a mid-season dry spell that was experienced during the farming season.