BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
PARTS of the country that were affected by the prolonged dry spell during the 2021/22 farming season are already experiencing food shortages, government has said.
Giving a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Information and Publicity minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government would soon beef up its food stocks for social welfare allocations to stave off hunger.
“On marketing of grain, the nation is advised that cumulative grain intake is 1 307 711 metric tonnes, comprising 987 394 metric tonnes of maize, 208 509 metric tonnes of wheat, 99 695 metric tonnes of traditional grains and 12 113 metric tonnes of soyabeans,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Most of the grain delivered to the GMB was paid for. It is noted that due to the erratic rains, some areas are experiencing food deficiency. Therefore, the government will increase welfare stocks allocation. Cabinet assures the nation that there are sufficient maize stocks to feed the nation and cater for those who are food insecure.”
Meteorological Services Department (MSD) agriculture meteorologist Benjamin Kwenda told NewsDay that although the country was receiving rains, they will not save crops affected by the dry spell.
“Most of the crops have already wilted and the rains will not be of much help for them to recover. The rains will only help improve the weather situation and also ensure availability of water for livestock, and fill up dams and ponds for irrigation purposes. Farmers, however, must be very cautious to ensure that the rains that are being received will not affect the mature crops that are ready for harvesting,” Kwenda said.
In its latest situational report on Zimbabwe’s food security released this month, the United Nations Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the poor and erratic rainfall was likely to result in below to average harvests for the 2021/22 agricultural season.
“Following a period of extended dryness in February, most crops are suffering significant moisture stress and near complete write-offs are likely for some households in worst-affected areas. The government has now lifted maize and wheat import bans and is allowing the milling industry and stockfeed manufacturers to import grain,” OCHA said, adding that this would push up the cost of living.
The Southern African Development Community Council of Ministers recently urged member States, Zimbabwe included, to come up with contingency plans to address looming food shortages in the region
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