Let’s aim to feed Africa

IT is quite heartening that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared the country’s wheat crop, religiously grown every winter, a strategic food security crop.

IT is quite heartening that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared the country’s wheat crop, religiously grown every winter, a strategic food security crop.

The declaration — made during a virtual Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders’ extraordinary meeting on the humanitarian crisis facing the region owing to an El Niño-induced drought — effectively broadens Zimbabwe’s food basket, thereby widening citizens’ food options and effectively lessens the nation’s reliance on the traditional staple maize crop.

This is probably with the futuristic hope that bread and its main ingredient, flour, eventually become part and parcel of Zimbabweans’ staple diet over and above their obvious favourite sadza or isitshwala which many never want to miss.

Add other crops such as potatoes and small grains to the food basket and Zimbabwe would not be so food insecure as it is today if these crops were being produced on a massive scale.

It is quite sad though that this is, however, all utopia.

Fundamentally, in Africa and chiefly Zimbabwe life is largely basic; so rudimentary that the thought that one day bread will be a staple food like the Indians’ chapati is a far-fetched fantasy.

Therefore, our sincere call is that Zimbabwe should simply go back to the drawing board and trace where it lost it in terms of growing enough of its favourite staple maize crop.

It is more than embarrassing that all our many grain silos in the country’s key maize growing regions currently stand majestically empty, rudely reminding us of what we are capable of, which is to grow more than enough to feed ourselves and spare much more for others.

We honestly feel that over and above of telling his fellow Sadc leaders that “Zimbabwe has adopted a wheat-based food security matrix”, President Mnangagwa should have also profusely apologised for letting down the region by not producing enough maize for everyone in the region which Zimbabwe used to do some 20 years ago.

In the same breath, our President should have resolutely gone beyond merely mentioning in passing that “a new Strategic Grain Reserve concept, has been adopted”, by promising to, hence forth, produce enough maize to feed not only the region, but the entire continent because the country has the capacity and capability to do so.

Zimbabwe not only owes the region, but the entire continent currently being ravaged by climate change-induced droughts that are causing widespread famine.

When President Mnangagwa told his Sadc counterparts that Zimbabwe is looking “ahead to future seasons with optimism, anchored by our increased dam capacity and land under irrigation”, he should have also added that this is with the determined promise to feed fellow African without the wherewithal to feed themselves.

It is quite sad that Zimbabwe keeps wasting its potential to be a continental food source and the buck stops with our leadership whom we dare challenge to take the pivotal role in driving the country to be able to feed the continent.

Truly speaking there is absolutely no excuse that we should be begging for food when we have the land and water to produce the food. Why should a far-flung country like Russia give us grain we can ably produce here? This is an abomination.

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