Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
THE Government is in the process of importing 200 000 tonnes of wheat to alleviate shortages of bread in the country, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Vangelis Haritatos has said.
Responding to questions in the Senate on Thursday, Deputy Minister Haritatos assured the nation that there won’t be any bread shortages in the country.
“Our ministry has already flighted a tender for the importation of 200 000 tonnes of wheat through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and several individuals have shown interest.
“We’ve been importing wheat for the past few years and nothing has changed. We will not have shortages of bread in the country. There may be a few shortages due to logistical challenges but these are not long term,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos.
He said the country consumes 30 000 tonnes of wheat a month and the 200 000 tonnes Government is importing will last almost seven months.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said wheat was one of the strategic crops but the country was not producing enough to meet national demand hence Government was importing to cover the deficit.
“We have a number of challenges in the production of wheat, including shortage of electricity but the major issue is the limited hectares under irrigation. For the current season, we had enough inputs for 60 000 hectares under Command Agriculture and 15 000 hectares was under the private sector giving a total of 75 000 hectares under wheat,” he said.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said in order to encourage more farmers to venture into wheat farming, Government was working on incentives for wheat farmers.
“Two weeks ago, the Government announced the new maize producer price which is at a US dollar price equivalent RTGS using the interbank rate. So, that is one of the first measures that we have taken as Government to incentivise the farmer.
“The second thing is that we encourage our farmers to access inputs provided under Command Agriculture. The prices of inputs under Command Agricutlure are fixed and as such farmers are cushioned from changes in prices,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos. – @pamelashumba1