Japan concerned over Zim’s food insecurity

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Shinjiro Amameishi

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

THE Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) has raised concern over Zimbabwe’s food insecurity which has been exacerbated by the economic meltdown.

The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) also recently revealed that cross-border migration had become one of the “key” survival strategies in the country in the face of the prevailing harsh economic environment.

The Zimbabwe dollar has also been depreciating, resulting in the average family basket shooting up to $73 000 in December up from $58 284 in November 2021, according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.

“In the case of Zimbabwe, it is affected by the deterioration of the economy and that is the main reason. From the nutrition angle … we are planning to organise regional training in the first half of the year,” JICA Economic Development deputy director-general, and group director for Agricultural and Rural Development 2 (Africa, Middle East and Europe) Shinjiro Amameishi said during a Zoom meeting yesterday.

“We will be inviting the government of Zimbabwe and that is what we can do.  What your country is facing is serious and this is mainly coming from the deterioration of the economy. We are aware of a crisis looming in Zimbabwe.

“Regarding financial support for Zimbabwe, our major operations are technical co-operation and we do not have a function to directly support by providing financial support … What we can do is provide opportunities to take part in technical training.”

With inflation and the cost of living rising, most businesses are increasing their prices to maintain the value of goods and services.

This has left most consumers unable to afford goods and services.

The United Nations Children’s Fund in its 2022 Outlook report also predicted food insecurity, particularly during the lean season running from October 2021 to March this year.

In a letter dated January 14, 2022, addressed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said employee incomes had been severely diminished, leaving more people vulnerable.

“Prior to your government assuming power from the late former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, teachers were earning a salary of US$540 per month and now only earn about US$200 per month. Teachers wonder whether this is the new dispensation that you promised.

“Furthermore, teachers and other civil service employees continue to earn in Zimbabwean dollars while goods and services are mostly priced in US dollars. This has resulted in their income severely diminishing through the unfavourable exchange rate of the US dollar and the Zimbabwean dollar. Your government has dismally failed to contain the rising cost of living,” ITUC said.

They pleaded with Mnangagwa to consider reversing “ill-conceived economic policies” that have failed, to restore the purchasing power of consumers in a bid to curb the worsening food security situation in the country.

The World Bank warned in its January 2022 Global Economic Prospects report that countries like Zimbabwe may have little room for support owing to debt, lost fiscal revenue and rising inflation.

It encouraged the country to implement internationally recommended political and economic reforms to unlock fresh lines of credit.

These recommendations include reducing corruption which has cost Zimbabwe over US$1 billion a year.

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