Seven million Zimbos face hunger

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

Government says close to seven million people are facing hunger due to drought, but said it would use its budget surplus to support vulnerable communities.

“The biggest issue on social safety nets is food … (and) just to make sure people do not go hungry … we have spent a bit of time making sure that we have put in place a programme for delivering food,” Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said at the Alpha Media Holdings (AMH)’s In Conversation with Trevor event yesterday.

“So, every week in Cabinet, we will monitor what the deliveries are like province by province, district by district. And, this week, in my office, I have actually put in place some
computer software which allows me to monitor the situation district by district through satellite, so I have got all the data.

“The situation is pretty serious and we have about 6,7 million people around Zimbabwe who are vulnerable to hunger and climate change because the two are now communed.”

Zimbabwe is enduring one of its worst droughts in recent years which resulted in widespread crop failure.

According to FEWSNET, an organisation which tracks global food insecurity, the 2018/19 rainfall season had more widespread rainfall deficits, especially in the north and west of the
country.

“The total cereal production is estimated at roughly 850 000 metric tonnes (MT). In May, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) held about 590 000 MT of maize including 500 000 MT held by the
strategic grain reserves, indicating below average national carry-over stocks from the 2017/18 marketing season. The official national cereal deficit for the 2019/20 consumption and
marketing season is currently estimated at 760 000 MT,” FEWS NET said in its latest report.

“According to the latest government crop assessment, 2018/19 maize production is estimated at about 776 600 MT, 45% of last season, while the national sorghum and pearl millet
production is estimated at 75 000 MT, also significantly below average

“Production for all other crops (eg, legumes, pulses, and tubers) and cash crops (mainly tobacco and cotton) are also expected at significantly below average levels.”

Tropical Cyclone Idai in the eastern and southern eastern parts of the country, mainly Chimanimani and Chipinge districts, led to severe flooding and destroyed crops and infrastructure
while disrupting livelihoods.

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