The Zambia National farmers Union (ZNFU) says the area under wheat and barley production is estimated to increase to 47,829 hectares in 2015.
This was revealed by its wheat commodity committee during a meeting it held recently to review the preliminary wheat and barley production estimates for 2015 and the current marketing season.
According to the committee’s report posted on ZNFU website, through remote sensing technology, the preliminary total areas under wheat and barley in Zambia has been estimated at 47,829 hectares.
The meeting was informed by the consultant engaged to estimate Zambia’s winter crops production through satellite imagery that separation of the wheat from the barley fields would only be done over the next few weeks as the crops approached maturation and hence will emit more distinct signals.
It was highlighted that while some farms had reduced their wheat area planted due to expectations of load shedding and reduced water levels, there were new entrants in wheat production especially in Serenje area.
It was further noted by the farmers that millers and traders had slowed down in their local wheat purchases as only about 60 percent of the crop was commited for sale while t the same time last year 97 percent of the crop was committed.
The report further says information from the traders indicated that millers were only signing up contracts with traders for wheat delivered up to January on assumption that millers will be allowed to import wheat again.
The meeting resolved that in the event of a deficit, the period for any imports should be between 1st April and 31st July 2015 in order to allow for all the local wheat to be committed.
The meeting bemoaned the decision by Government to issue an additional 11,000 tonnes of wheat import permits and urged that the 31st August 2015 deadline for all wheat imports to cease should be strictly adhered to and import duty should be reinstated on imports.
“Government should further be encouraged to adopt the stance taken by South Africa where when global wheat prices fall to a certain threshold, the import duty is revised further upwards to avoid injury on local producers,” it says
Earlier this year, the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda approved the importation of 75,000mt of wheat duty free.
As at end of July, ZRA data revealed that about 59,600 tonnes of wheat had been imported into Zambia.