‘Commercialisation key to food security’

FOOD and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative to Zimbabwe Gaoju Han says commercialisation of farming systems in rural areas is the key to attaining food security in the country.

Report by Nqobile Bhebhe Senior Reporter

Han, who was speaking to mark World Food Day yesterday, said: “The key to attaining food and nutrition security at household level in Zimbabwe lies with the ability to support farmers to improve their productivity, diversify their production and commercialisation of their farming systems.”

He added: “World Food Day is particularly important this year, as 1,6 million rural Zimbabweans will be in need of food assistance at the peak of the hunger season between January to March 2013, as identified by the recent ZimVAC report. The United Nations, through FAO and WFP, seek to contribute towards reducing poverty, hunger and malnutrition, as well as to improve the production and income of smallholder farmers.”

The food agency said the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, FAO and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have reaffirmed their dedication to work with communities, development agencies and the private sector to end hunger.

Last week, WFP said it would soon be rolling out a programme to feed villagers facing starvation in Zimbabwe’s drought-hit areas like Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South.

The agency said it would provide funding for cereals to be purchased from the local market.

WFP’s total requirement until the end of March next year is about $119 million of which $87 million is outstanding.

The government has the grain loan scheme in place as part of efforts to mitigate the effects of drought, but villagers in some of the worst-hit areas, including Gwanda in Matabeleland, were complaining that this was inadequate.

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