HARARE, ZIMBABWE — Historically reliant on imports to meet domestic demand, Zimbabwe is on the cusp of a record wheat crop as part of its efforts to ensure a stable food supply, particularly in light of the trade disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Associated Press reported, citing the agriculture ministry.
The country expects to harvest 380,000 tonnes of wheat, “which is 20,000 more than we require as a country,” Vangelis Haritatos, deputy agriculture minister, told the AP. That is up from about 300,000 tonnes produced last year.
The expected surplus will allow Zimbabwe to reach a goal of building a small strategic reserve of wheat for the first time in the history of the country, which first began planting wheat in 1962.
Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said in early October that Zimbabwe plans to increase wheat production to 420,000 tonnes next season, the AP reported. Wheat is the country’s second-most important crop after corn.
By increasing participation from small-scale farmers, land used for growing wheat increased from 66,000 hectares in 2021 to 75,000 hectares this year and will grow to 100,000 hectares next season. The wheat harvest in Zimbabwe runs from October to December.
According to the United Nations, African nations imported 44% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020. Prices have shot up 45% since the start of the war, the African Development Bank has noted.
The Black Sea Grain Corridor established in July was meant in large part to alleviate shortages in Africa, but Russia announced on Oct. 29 it would suspend its participation in the deal, which was due to expire on Nov. 19.The UN says nearly 8 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs has been exported worldwide through the initiative, with corn and wheat accounting for 72% of the shipments, and sunflower oil another 7%. Nearly 20% of the 2.35 million tonnes of wheat exports have gone to less-developed countries.