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Provincial ministers appeal for foood aid

Provincial ministers appeal for foood aid

Cde Shuvai Mahofa

Cde Shuvai Mahofa

Harare Bureau
Provincial ministers for almost all of the country’s eight rural provinces have appealed for urgent food aid, saying many people will be short of food by April, as their crops were severely affected by floods and the prolonged dry spell.

Their appeal came as government said it was mobilising funds to start importing food after realising that an on-going crop assessment had so far revealed that at least 300,000 hectares of maize are a write-off due to the two calamities.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made yesterday said government hoped the remaining 1,7 million hectares would provide enough food for the country.

“We have discovered that there is going to be crop write-off of around 300,000 hectares, that is out of a possible two million hectares that we have planted to all the summer cereals,” he said.

“Maize and small grains have been severely affected by the dry spell.”

Minister Made said there were hopes of a good crop in some parts of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East.

Acting President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday said government was aware of the food situation and had asked the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to mobilise funds.

“Those who give us weather forecasts had informed government that this was their forecast before they went public about it,” he said. “We had our caucus yesterday (Tuesday) and we looked into that issue and we’re thinking about the security of the country in case of a drought.

“We agreed that we’re going to be importing food. We tasked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Cde Patrick Chinamasa to mobilise financial resources in anticipation of a drought.”

Cde Mnangagwa said $400,000 had been budgeted for cloud seeding but the operation could not be carried out as there were no appropriate clouds.

Officiating at a Zero Hunger Strategy Workshop in Harare yesterday, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Retired Colonel Christian Katsande said government was anxious to establish the actual position when the assessment is complete.

“Frequent droughts and floods affect agricultural production,” he said. “The rainy season is coming to an end. This is clearly giving us indications of where our focus should be in terms of interventions. It is important to develop irrigation facilities in Zimbabwe.”

But provincial ministers indicated that some people will be in need of food as early as April.

Midlands Minister of State Cde Jason Machaya said 70 percent of the crops in Zvishavane, Mberengwa, Shurugwi and Kwekwe were destroyed by the prolonged dry spell.

“The small grains have also been affected by the dry weather conditions and by end of April most people will be in need of food assistance,” he said. “Some families are now relying on mealie-meal from shops.”

Matabeleland South Minister of State Cde Abednico Ncube said the province was badly hit by the drought which destroyed small grains that are usually tolerant to dry conditions.

“The food stocks are getting depleted and by end of April, most people will’ve exhausted their food reserves,” he said. “The situation is bad across the province.”

Masvingo Minister of State Cde Shuvai Mahofa said the most affected districts were Bikita, Zaka, Chivi, Chiredzi and Mwenezi.

“Farmers producing in wetlands and irrigation schemes have started harvesting their summer crops, but the bulk of the province, over 90 percent of it, was affected by the drought,” she said.

“Few people planted small grains and farmers in Munyikwa in Gutu may get something as their millet and sorghum is in a better condition.”

Mashonaland East Minister of State Cde Joel Biggie Matiza said more than 50 percent of the province was affected by the drought.

“Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, Murewa and Mutoko are the most affected areas,” he said.

Minister of State for Mashonaland Central, Advocate Martin Dinha said although some parts of the province had been affected by the drought, the overall situation was not as bad. “We have some patches that have been affected, but overall the bulk of the crops are in a good condition,” he said.

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