Authorities at ARDA Antelope Estate in Maphisa say the late planted wheat crop has been severely affected by the current power shortages, dashing hopes of attaining its targeted yield of about 4 thousand tonnes.
ARDA Antelope estate is one of the major producers of food in the country having jointly contributed 10 percent of the country’s total wheat output with ARDA Ingwizi Estate in Mangwe district last season.
However, prolonged hours of load shedding have affected water supply at the scheme which dedicated 516 hectares of land to wheat production this season.
The target of 8 tonnes per hectare will be reduced to about 5 tonnes per hectare if government does not move in to prioritise wheat farmers, lamented Estate Manager Mr Aleck Chinyai .
“Like last year we had over 4 thousand tonnes that we had produced but with the scenario we will be lucky to get 3500 tonnes .Remember the young crop that is heading to booting, requires adequate water because this stage is really critical. The one that is at grain filling can cope unlike this one here” he said
As part of efforts to salvage the late planted crop, authorities have also made a request of 50 thousand litres of diesel from the command agriculture programme to run its generators.
Ministry Of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Climate and Rural Resettlement Provincial Agronomist, Mr Innocent Nyathi said other challenges that have affected the wheat farming season include low water levels at supply dams, access to inputs and low capacity utilisation of communal irrigation schemes.
“We have to get to point as a province where we are able to feed ourselves . Right now we are producing about 7400 tonnes when as a province we require about 50 thousand tonnes of wheat a year “said Mr Nyathi
Currently, one thousand four hundred hectares of land were dedicated to the wheat crop by three out of seven districts.
The projected yield from the province this season is 7400 hectares.