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Nearly 8 million Zimbabweans need food aid


Harare, (New Ziana) – Close to 8 million Zimbabweans in both rural and urban areas need food assistance up to March next year when the country expects its next harvest, a Cabinet Minister said on Tuesday.

Briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere said Cabinet had received an update on the 2023/24 summer crop marketing, food security outlook to March 2025, and the winter cereals production plan for 2024.

The update by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, who also reported on the second round of crops, livestock and fisheries assessment of April 18 and the rapid village-based food assessment concluded three days earlier, showed that 6 million people in rural areas require food assistance between May 2024 and March 2025.

At the same time, the Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Committee (ZimLAC) report indicated that 1.7 million urban dwellers require assistance.

This brings the total of people in need of food assistance to 7.7 million, constituting 51 percent of the country’s total population, and excludes a further 4.5 million that require school meals.

“The grain stock at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as at 9 May 2024 stood at 423 779 metric tons. The private sector is expected to import all the stock feed requirements of 400 000 metric tons, and urban maize requirements of up to 450 000 metric tons to March 2025. The private sector has capacity to import 1 000 000 metric tons to mitigate the effect of the drought,” said Dr Muswere.

“Regarding winter cereals production, a total of 712 500 metric tons of wheat, barley, maize, sorghum, and potatoes are planned to be produced this winter from the available irrigation area of 142 000 hactares. All the wheat production enablers including power, water, seed and fertilizers are being tracked on a weekly basis.

Fielding questions from the media, Dr Masuka said the figures that President Mnangagwa gave while declaring the 2023/24 agricultural season a national disaster in April were for last year, but consideration had already been taken of the likely final figures of the assessments that were still ongoing.

The assessment showed a 77 percent reduction of the initially expected yield of 2 579 237 metric tons for the 2023/24 summer season to 744 271 metric tons indicating a major shortfall for both food and stock feed.

In anticipation of the severity of the impact of the El Nino phenomenon and the consequent reduction in the volume of cereals produced to feed the nation, President Mnangagwa declared a State of Disaster on 2 April 2024 during which he indicated that no one will die of hunger in the country.

Meanwhile, Cabinet agreed that going forward, Zimbabwe’s food security thrust will center on the reduction of reliance on rain-fed food production by strengthening initiatives such as climate- proofed agriculture, with a focus on conservation agriculture and expanding the area under irrigation.

Regarding livestock, the impact of the El Nino-induced weather conditions on water supply and grazing availability for livestock resulted in the loss of 9 941 cattle at the beginning of the 2023/2024 season.

The most affected districts are Tsholotsho and Binga of Matabeleland North province and Mangwe and Bulilima districts of Matabeleland South province. Forty-seven percent of the wards will face a critical grazing shortage from July 2024 onwards, while 12 percent are assured of adequate grazing to the next season.”

New Ziana

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