2,2 million Zimbabweans face food shortages

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A man picks up grains of fallen maize by the Harare-Masvingo road

THE United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 2,2 million Zimbabweans — a quarter of the country’s rural population — might require food aid early next year due to poor harvests realised in the last cropping season.

REPORT BY SENIOR REPORTER

In a statement yesterday, WFP said the food shortages were exacerbated by adverse weather conditions, unavailability and high cost of agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilizers and projected high prices of the staple food — maize.

“This is the highest, since early 2009, when more than half the population required food support,” WFP said.

WFP country director Sory Ouane said: “Many districts, particularly in the south, harvested very little and people are already trying to stretch their dwindling food stocks.

“WFP is working closely with the government and partners to respond to the looming food crisis and will start food and cash distribution to the most vulnerable in October.

“To meet the increased needs, WFP and its partners will provide regionally-procured cereals as

well as imported vegetable oil and pulses. Cash transfers will be used in selected areas to afford people flexibility and help support local markets. Distributions will be gradually scaled up from October until harvest time in March next year.”

The mid-term fiscal policy review for the Second Round Crop and Livestock Assessment Report from the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that

798 600 tonnes of maize would be realised in 2013, down from an initial projection of 1 100 000 tonnes.

This is a further reduction from the 968 000 tonnes recorded in 2012.

The poor maize output is mainly a result of the erratic rainfall pattern witnessed during the 2012/13 season, which affected yields and hectarage.

Out of the 1 442 845 hectares planted, 177 605 hectares were written off. This reduced harvested area from 1 265 237 hectares to 967 229 hectares during the same period.

Manicaland provincial administrator Fungai Mbetsa said areas such as Buhera, Marange, Makoni North, Chipinge South and Nyanga North were affected.

He said the communities did not get enough harvest, adding that programmes such as the grain loan scheme, maize imported from Zambia and the intervention expected from WFP would save the situation.

According to statistics released by WFP, Zimbabwe has been facing increased levels of vulnerability and food insecurity since 2001.

Last year, the government availed $10 million worth of grain from domestic stocks towards a joint relief operation with WFP and the programme benefited about 1,4 million people drawn from the country’s 37 rural districts.

“To help people withstand future droughts and other shocks, WFP has been implementing a Food for Assets programme in rural Zimbabwe since June. Under this programme, vulnerable communities receive food while taking part in projects such as the construction of community irrigation systems and deep wells,” WFP said.

Officially opening the Harare Agricultural Show last Friday, President Robert Mugabe said the agricultural season experienced mixed fortunes characterised by late rains and prolonged mid-season dry spells owing to the negative impact of climate change.

“In order to mitigate the effects of hunger, the government is mobilising grain from areas of surplus to needy areas. In addition, measures have been put in place to import grain from neighbouring countries. Going forward, it is government’s intention to ensure food self-sufficiency for the nation,” Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe, once a breadbasket for Southern Africa, has been reduced to a basket case with its agricultural sector heavily bruised over the last 15 years because of poor government policies.

The government itself estimates that food production is half of what it was in 2000.

Investors, with their desperately needed foreign capital, remain wary of Zimbabwe as Mugabe has pledged to expand nationalisation schemes following his recent electoral victory.

13 COMMENTS

  1. because zanu pf has won n.g.o.s and un agencies start talking about hunger.where is there no hunger.there is hunger in uk and us and south africa.we know un agencies are controlled by the west.

  2. VaMugabe vakapedza nyika yese kuiita maruzevha vachiti that’s land reform zvino acharimira ruzhinji ndiyani?mamai muchinyanya kuvhota musina kufunga

  3. @Victoria chibwe,which South Africa are you talking about or the US you mention here?do you compare the hunger over there with our starving?if so then you should have your head examined

  4. VAMUGABE ndovakati uite nyope here,,,,,kana kuti vakatokupawo ruzevha iwe wakakurira kumajorbek MBARE unoda rubetsero rwupi rumwe vauye vakupe.WAIFANIRA KUTANGA WAFUNGA USATI WANO VOTA. ukatiunehamawo hayo yarwira nyika.

  5. It is all Mugabi’s fault!

    “WFP said the food shortages were exacerbated by adverse weather conditions (MUGABI’s fault), unavailability and high cost of agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilizers (MUGABI’s fault) and projected high prices of the staple food — maize. (MUGABI’s fault)”

    Mugabi must go!

    If 1 in 4 Zimbabweans, as WFP estimates, is facing starvation then Mugabi must go! Between my wife my 2 kids and I, one of us will surely starve if Mugabe does not go!

  6. The problem now is most farmers are looking for cash crops like tobacco and less of maize. Most people grow maize sufficient for themselves and family and not for marketing. A lot of money was also wasted on this bulltish election. African people should stop trying to model their politics towards the west. We ain’t got money like that. Don’t blame Mugabe for this either because last season was an inclusive government and I never witnessed Mdc party members in rural areas giving farming advise.

  7. Mugabe did an input scheme for A1 farmers. What did Morgans campaign focus on? Compensation to the ex white commercial farmers. If Mdc wants a better chance come 2018 focus on what Biti or someone of relevance. Gaylord is a dictatorship in the making without direction

  8. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again… By the way will the Chinese, Russians and other erstwhile brothers of ours from the east be quick to dip into their pockets and feed us or is it going to be the imperialistic Americans, British and their kith and kin…

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