Government fights quelea birds
THE government has taken a decisive step to fight the quelea birds, which have been a monumental menace to many a farmer especially wheat growers.
Speaking during the post-Cabinet media briefing, the minister for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said the government had purchased chemicals to control the birds.
“Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that the early planted wheat is now at booting stage in most provinces. Bird repellent has been procured to ensure efficient control of the quelea birds that have been sighted in all provinces. Government has begun a nationwide identification of roosting places of quelea birds,” she said.
The minister further added that the farmers should own up and also take part in the regulation of the birds.
“Farmers should assist by providing surveillance information on the roosting places, and additionally can collect bird repellent from their nearest GMB depots to protect their crops. The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority have been engaged to ensure efficient control of the birds. In order to eliminate side marketing, wheat contractors are putting in place harvesting and transport logistics,” said Mutsvangwa.
The minister said the country has enough stocks for wheat to last until harvest time and two Mashonaland provinces, Mashonaland West and Central, were leading in cereals production in the country.
“The country’s current wheat stocks of 81 419 metric tonnes (mt) are sufficient until the next harvest, which is expected to commence in September. It is highlighted that 792 325 mt of maize, 11 769 mt of soya bean and 81 755 mt of traditional grains had been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as of 24 August 2021. Mashonaland West had the highest maize and soyabean intake, while Mashonaland Central was highest in relation to traditional grains,” she said.
Turning to tobacco which is the second-highest foreign currency earner after gold, the minister said the country had fared better than last year.
“On tobacco marketing, the nation is informed that cumulative sales increased to 206 639 819 kilogrammes compared to the 184 million kilogrammes that were sold during a similar period last year. The 81 963 405 kilogrammes valued at US$318 066 431 and exported so far compares favourably to the 86 914 741 kilogrammes valued at US$283 081 584 exported during a similar period in 2020 reflecting the impact of better prices. As part of the strategy to localise the funding of tobacco, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board will contract 50 000 hectares valued at US$60 million, compared to the 12 000 hectares contracted the previous season,” she said.