The resolution taken by cabinet encouraging millers and bakers to establish outgrowers scheme in wheat production will boost food self sufficiency and reduce the trade deficit.
Zimbabwe spends at least $250 million annually for wheat imports to compliment local production which suffered decline over the years.
Import substitution through increased local production is cited as a major intervention to reduce the high trade deficit affecting the economy, and in so doing cabinet resolved to avert reliance on imports by encouraging private sector to support local wheat farmers through outgrowers’ schemes.
Chairperson of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe Mr Tafadzwa Musarara described the move as making huge economic sense but urged stakeholders including government to deal with various hurdles affecting wheat farming in Zimbabwe for the scheme to be successful.
“This is game changing but obviously let’s deal with infrastructure around dams and irrigation equipment on farms. The issue of bankability of 99 year leases is also crucial to unlock funding to the private sector,” he said.
Beverages maker Delta has for over 25 years successfully managed an outgrowers scheme for its key raw materials in beer making.
The company’s public relations manager Patricia Murambinda said the scheme has provided a lifeline to their operations helping it to constantly supply the market.
“We do have a fully fledged and staffed department that deals with the outgrowers scheme and that has helped not to go on the foreign currency queue seeking to import raw materials save for soft drink concentrates which cannot be locally manufactured,” she said.
Between 350 000 to 400 000 tonnes of wheat is required annually to meet the national requirements.
The government set a new producer price of $630 per tonne from $500 in order to promote local wheat production for the upcoming wheat crop season.