While a number of African countries largely depends on Russia and Ukraine for their regular supply of wheat and grains, even in spite of the persistent geopolitical warring situation, Zimbabwe has recorded its highest wheat harvest this agricultural production year.
According to Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services, Zimbabwe has achieved this milestone in wheat production by harvesting 375 000 tonnes of the cereal in 2022. Thus, Zimbabwe emerges as one of the few African countries which has adopted import substitution agricultural policy and strategically working self-sufficiency.
Many African leaders have shifted blames to Russia-Ukraine crisis which began February 24, others focus on spending state budget to import food to calm rising discontent among the population. That compared, Zimbabwe offered support for its local farmers and its harvest results is credited for the government’s stringent efforts on agricultural transformation anchored on active private and public sector participation.
Over the years, the country could not meet national requirements and had to import wheat from other countries, according to the Farmers Review Africa.
The weekly update indicates that all of the provinces have completed harvesting. It also shows that the cumulative area harvested across the provinces stands at 78 063ha, which is 97 percent of the planted area with a cumulative production of 375 131 tonnes.
Agriculture and Rural Advisory Services chief director Professor Obert Jiri said by working together as a team, they managed to improve wheat production.
“Yes we managed to meet the target. This was through hard work, commitment and working together to produce wheat that is sufficient for the country. The effort is greatly appreciated and we are positive that we can also do more than this in the next season,” said Professor Obert.
National Chairman of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), Tafadzwa Musarara, said there had been a steady growth in wheat harvests, adding that if the private sector continued to work with the government, widespread imports would be permanently eliminated.
“We have the biggest yield this year since wheat started. This year, Government has not only empowered the farmers, but the consumers as well in product supply and price stability. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused serious problems for us. Partnerships with government are crucial in terms of food sufficiency. We used to import wheat worth $300 million, we no longer do that and want to domesticate that. We also managed to secure the raw materials for the whole year,” Musarara said.
During the 2022 winter cropping season, 78 063 hectares were put under wheat, registering the highest agricultural land since independence and followed by plantings in 2004 (70 585 ha) and 2005 (67 261 ha). The country had targeted to produce 380 000 tonnes of wheat but part of the crop was affected by early rains and veld fires.
Russia’s Agroexport Federal Center for Development of Agribusiness Exports in close partnership collaboration with Trust Technologies and the business expert community drew up a concept for the development of exports of principal agricultural products (grain, dairy, butter, meat and confectionery products) to promising markets of African countries.
“The African continent is an interesting and promising area for the development of Russian food exports due to a number of factors: strong differences in the level of welfare of the population, political instability in some countries, state regulation of prices for a number of goods, et cetera,” Agroexport head Dmitry Krasnov was quoted in the statement and reported by Russian media including the Interfax News Agency.
By increasing grain exports to countries in Africa, Russia aims at enhancing the competitiveness of Russian agricultural goods in the African market. According to the business concept report, nine African countries have been identified and chose as target markets for the delivery of the agricultural products.
These are Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa.
It is estimated to build on the total volume of exports to African countries which Russia is expected to earn estimated revenue amounting to $33 billion.
In a sharp contrast to food-importing African countries, Zimbabwe has increased wheat production especially during this crucial time of the current Russia-Ukraine crisis. This achievement was attributed to efforts in mobilizing local scientists to improve the crop’s production. Zimbabwe is an African country that has been under Western sanctions for 25 years, hindering imports of much-needed machinery and other inputs to drive agriculture.
Some experts and international organizations have also expressed the fact that African leaders have to adopt import substitution mechanisms and use their financial resources on strengthening agricultural production systems.
Establishing food security is important for millions of people facing hunger in Africa and is crucial for sustainable economic development and long-term prosperity of the continent. Addressing food security therefore, is key for a rising Africa in the 21st century.
From various perspectives, African leaders have to focus and redirect both human and financial resources toward increasing local production, the surest approach to attain sustainable food security for over 1.3 billion population in Africa, and this falls within the framework of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.