Senators concerned with rising food insecurity
Harare (New Ziana) – Senators have expressed concern over what they say is an increased number of people in their constituencies needing food aid after their crops were written off due to prolonged dry spells.
The Senators raised these issues to Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke in the Upper House.
Mashonaland Central Senator Alice Chimbudzi asked the deputy Minister to lay out the Government plans regarding looming food insecurity around the country.
Deputy Minister Matuke said the Government was aware that the country faces imminent drought.
“As the Ministry, we have taken strides after being given the task by His Excellency the President who told us that drought is looming. Probably by the end of this month, we would be distributing food aid after being given this opportunity by His Excellency that we should distribute food.
“From the beginning of April, we should be distributing food. This window gives us the opportunity to create our database because you have to be on the ground collecting data regarding needy households or those who are in need of food. We will then engage the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development so that we fund the food distribution programme, “he said.
He added:”My explanation is that we are continuously giving out food to those who need it. In the past month, we distributed more than four thousand tonnes. However, from the 1st of April, we are going to come up with registers and databases so that we identify all those who need food aid from now and into the future for their sustained livelihoods”.
When pressed to explain on the food aid distribution criteria by Midlands Senator Eleven Kambizi, Matuke pleaded with the Senators to bring forward information regarding the needy in their districts.
“We have a lot of needy areas but I would like to point out that there are some areas which might have a bumper harvest.
“I believe that 30 percent of our people are going to harvest, but 70 percent would be facing drought because of certain reasons. Some regions in the country will harvest and others will not. Government has not stopped distributing grain but it is going to distribute it to more people this year because of the prevailing situation,” he said.
Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, who is also the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, confirmed that the country has adequate grain stocks in its strategic reserve, allaying fears of hunger stoked by the current dry spell.
“Indeed, we know the current position of our silos and we are aware that in the past year we had a bountiful harvest. Our silos are full – not only with maize but with a strategic reserve of different crops which include sorghum, millet and maize which is around 1.5 metric tonnes.
“The Minister of Agriculture explained that the reserves have not been tapped into. We have been looking into this issue so that we determine the next course of action,” he said.
Zimbabwe consumes about 1.8 million tons of grain annually.