After years of relying on grain imports and for the first time in almost two decades, Zimbabwe expects this year to have a bumper harvest of the staple maize crop.

Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Anxious Masuka, recently said that he is upbeat about a bumper harvest with expectations of a surplus, the state broadcaster ZBC reported Tuesday.

“We expect 2.8 million metric tonnes. We hope that will be enough to feed the nation and get us a surplus,” Masuka said.

Government is optimistic that this season’s targets will be achieved given the abundant rains received this season and the successful implementation of the Presidential input scheme program.

The Presidential input scheme program provides farmers with crop inputs such as seed, chemicals and fertilizer in order to plant maize ahead of the planting season.

The program encouraged farmers to prioritize the staple maize crop over more profitable commercial crops such as tobacco.

Masuka said there has been overwhelming uptake of the program by farmers.

“Initially we had targeted 1.8 million households, but 2.3 million ended up being trained and enrolled,” he said. “We are now in the process of delivering fertilizer. Focus is now on applying the fertilizer and scouting for armyworms to ensure nothing compromises the yields.”

Zimbabwe has over the years been importing grain to address a food deficit due to climate change-induced droughts and also the failure to fully utilize farmland by some farmers who benefited from the land reform program.

The Land Reform Program, which began at the turn of the millennium, aimed at redistributing land from white-owned farms to more than 150,000 black farmers.

Agriculture is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy and the sector provides employment and income to more than 60 percent of the country’s population, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Agriculture is viewed by the government as crucial in its goal of achieving an upper-middle-income status by the year 2030. Enditem

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