Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Editorial Comment: Prepare for efficient food distribution

Editorial Comment: Prepare for efficient food distribution

What started as a promising 2014/2015 summer cropping season is turning out to be a disaster. An estimated 300,000 hectares of maize are a write-off due to a prolonged dry spell. It is now feared that most households will run out of food by end of April as they are notexpecting to harvest anything this season.

Most provinces will therefore require food aid hence provincial ministers for almost all the eight rural provinces have appealed for urgent food aid. Matabeleland South Minister of State Cde Abedinico Ncube said the province was badly hit by the drought which affected even small grains which are usually drought tolerant. He said the situation was bad across the province and most families will require food aid by end of April.

In Masvingo, Cde Shuvai Mahofa, the Minister of State, said the worst affected districts were Bikita, Zaka, Chivi, Chiredzi and Mwenezi. She said very few farmers planted small grains and indications were that these farmers are among the few that will harvest something this season.

Mashonaland East Minister of State Cde Joel Biggie Matiza said 50 percent of the province has been affected by the drought. The situation is also said to be very bad in Manicaland.

Mashonaland Central is the only province where farmers are expecting a good harvest as crops in most areas are reported to be in good condition.

The government is already seized with the impending challenge and has tasked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Cde Patrick Chinamasa to start mobilising resources to import food. It is government policy that no one should starve and we therefore want to commend government for its quick response to warnings of the impending drought.

An estimated two million hectares had been put under cereals this cropping season and there is therefore need to continue assessing the crop situation in order to establish the country’s food deficit. Importing maize should start by the end of this month to avoid a situation whereby families run out of food.

In the past distributing the food to needy areas has been the major challenge so as the country braces for another drought year, it is important to put in place mechanisms for fast distribution of maize. Distribution centres should be identified and there is a need to ensure that there are as close as possible to the people.

In the past hungry families have been forced to contribute money for transport because the maize was being delivered far away from the people. District administrators, councillors, traditional leaders and other community leaders should assist in setting up structures that will be responsible for distributing the maize. The government on its part should prioritise food imports and non-governmental organisations should come in to complement government efforts.

NGOs have in the past assisted by feeding vulnerable groups such as children, people with disabilities and the elderly and we have no reason to doubt that they will this year once again rise to the occasion.

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