The Vice President, Retired General Constantino Chiwenga has launched the 2018 command wheat farming programme, and also revealed government plans to introduce the auction system for cotton.

The command wheat programme was launched at Green Valley Estate in Chakari, which is owned by the family of a Chartered Accountant, Mr Collen Gura.

Vice President Chiwenga said inputs to cover 67 000 hectares of wheat are available and the hope is to produce about 460 000 tonnes of the crop, a figure that satisfies national requirements.

He called on wheat farmers to plant early so that they harvest the crop before the onset of the summer season rains.

“The government is targeting to create a middle class society by 2030 through programmes like the command agriculture and revival of industries,” said Cde Chiwenga, adding that capacity utilisation of land is set to increase through sustained irrigation development as the government is importing more equipment from Spain.

Launching the command wheat programme, Vice President Chiwenga took to the wheel and planted over a hectare of wheat at green valley estate.

He commended the Gura family for being techno savvy as they use modern methods of farming and monitoring mechanisms.

The family plans to put 350 hectares under wheat and also to soon use autonomous tractors that do not require drivers.

The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrence Shiri expressed dismay over vast acres of idle arable land and advised struggling farmers to consider government approved partnerships.

The Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs, Cde Webster Shamu said the province has 276 farmers who have so far registered to access inputs to cover 13090 hectares.

He said while the province has abundant water for irrigation, there is still limited irrigation infrastructure.

On another note, Vice President Chiwenga revealed the government’s plans to introduce the auction system for cotton as part of measures to revive the cotton sector which has over the past years seen production of the white gold slump.

He also announced that cotton production will from this year also benefit from the command agriculture model.

“All these government interventions in the cotton sector are meant to promote revival of the textile industry,” said Cde Chiwenga, adding that farmers should consider value addition and beneficiation to their produce for them to realise agricultural profitability.

On economic revival, Vice President Chiwenga hailed efforts by the new political dispensation and confirmed that funds for the implementation of mega projects in the energy, transport, aviation and water sectors have been secured, while the African Development Bank has pledged to guarantee the security of investors’ funds.