Zimbabwe’s crop hectarage increases by 23pc: Minister

Subsistence farmer work their field of maize after late rains near the capital Lilongwe, Malawi February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Farmers in Zimbabwe planted crops on over 3.4 million hectares in the 2020/2021 agricultural season, representing a 23 percent increase from the 2.8 million hectares planted last season, an official has said.

The increase was driven by abundant rainfall received this season, early distribution of inputs and support to farmers by the government.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Permanent Secretary John Basera said the 2020/2021 season was supported by a number of agricultural input support schemes, including the Presidential Input Scheme, which catered for maize, sorghum, pearl millet, soya beans, sunflower, cowpeas and sugar beans, state-run Herald newspaper reported Monday.

The scheme gave farmers early access to inputs on a contract basis, enabling them to be more productive.

The scheme also encouraged farmers to prioritize the country’s maize staple crop over commercial crops, like tobacco, that have a higher profit margin.

Most crops registered an increase in hectarage except for finger millet, rice and cassava.

Maize hectarage increased from 1.5 million hectares planted last season to 1.9 million this season, while sorghum increased from 305,865 hectares to 350,468 hectares.

Tobacco rose from 117,049 to 125,177 hectares, while cotton hectarage also increased from 170,622 to 239,619.

Groundnuts increased from 208,229 hectares to 249,190 hectares, while sweet potatoes rose from 20,537 to 41,436 hectares this season.

Meanwhile, after relying on food imports, this year Zimbabwe is anticipating a record maize harvest since the Land Reform Program of the early 2000s, with 2.8 million tones expected to be delivered to the Grain Marketing Board.

Maize production declined significantly over the past years due to disturbances caused by the land reform program.