IT’S refreshing news that Fewsnet has declared Zimbabwe food secure for the first time in years. This is almost a year after the World Food Programme estimated that about eight million people in the country were food insecure.
While we celebrate the bumper harvest and food security, it is high time government puts in place measures to build enough grain reserves to last until the next season.
Government efforts to curb side marketing of grain are not enough without enticing farmers to sell their produce to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) at competitive prices.
Farmers always bemoan that their produce is bought for a song at GMB.
So, good prices will lure farmers to deliver their produce to GMB, thereby building the country’s food reserves.
Of course, the country has been declared food secure, but government has the responsibility to ensure food availability. There are areas such as Masvingo and parts of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces that did not receive adequate rains and need government support.
Also, government should encourage people to preserve their yields at household level.
This is an opportunity for government to carry out extensive research and come up with a credible database of people in need of food aid instead of relying on partisan reports.
Politics of food has often left the country on the edge, with politicians from across the divide using the food for election campaigns which benefit only a few.
Partisan food distribution condemns deserving people to abject poverty while benefiting even those with surplus.
This credible database will help government to budget and allocate resources to the vulnerable.
The country received good rains during the rainy season and the rollout of command agriculture yielded fruits, which obviates reliance on donor support.
Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of the region before the land reform programme at the turn of the millennium.
Relying on donors perennially is not good for our country. Government should try to ensure we have enough reserves for the next three to four seasons.