Debra Matabvu and Prince Maphosa
Government has bought 20 000 tonnes of maize from Tanzania and is in active discussions with other countries in the region, particularly Zambia, as it moves to procure more than 1 million tonnes, it has been learnt.
Government says it has enough stocks to supply the local market in the interim as it currently holds 500 000 tonnes in the strategic grain reserve, which are over and above the 560 000 tonnes that have been delivered by farmers to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) during the recent marketing season.
The country needs 1,8 million tonnes of grain per year.
Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Mr Justin Mupamhanga said Government was now working on logistics to bring the maize from Tanzania.
“We have secured 20 000 tonnes of maize from Tanzania and we are now working on logistics on how to bring the maize into the country,” he said.
“This is the first batch of maize, and we are working on acquiring up to 1 million tonnes of maize.
“We have started engaging other countries in the region; and for now, Zambia is considering supplying us with maize.
“Acquiring maize is a long process; however, we are working on it as a matter urgency.”
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza told The Sunday Mail that the grain importation committee was working on processes to ensure that grain was bought at a reasonable price.
“The grain importation committee, chaired by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, is working on the price and modalities. However, we currently have enough maize and small grain,” said Dr Nzenza.
“We reviewed the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) Report (a fortnight ago) during the food security and nutrition committee meeting, which is chaired by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Rtd Air Marshall Perrance Shiri, and we were mapping a way forward for the most vulnerable areas,” she said.
The ZimVAC report, released in June this year, estimates that rural food insecurity will surpass 50 percent by March 2020.
Matabeleland North, Midlands and Masvingo are projected to have the highest number of food-insecure households during that period.
Binga and Chivi will be the most vulnerable districts.
At 49 percent, Matabeleland South is projected to have the least proportion of food-insecure households.
The report reads in part: “In June 2019, rural food insecurity was estimated at 21 percent and is projected to reach 59 percent during the peak hunger period (January to March 2020).
“This food insecurity prevalence translates to about 5,5 million rural people. The cereal requirements, at peak, will be 818 323 tonnes at an estimated cost of US$217 659 752.
“There is need for urgent food distribution or cash-based transfers (to promote the local economy where feasible) to food-insecure households in order to avoid a worsening situation.”
In a ministerial statement to Parliament recently, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said grain imports were a priority.
“The entire country has been affected, with the most affected being the traditional low rainfall regions 4 and 5, covering mainly Masvingo as well as the Matabeleland North and South provinces. Even the traditionally food secure provinces of Mashonaland in regions 1, 2 and 3 have been severely affected,” he said.
“Humanitarian assistance must be availed from now up to April 2020 and thereafter a review will be done for the consequent period.
“Due to the inter-linkages of the economy’s various sectors, the disaster is anticipated to affect a wide range of sectors, including the industry and energy sectors. However, the most affected sectors are food and nutrition, agriculture, water, education, health, wildlife, environment, energy and gender, among others.”
President Mnangagwa has declared the 2018-19 El Nino-induced drought a State of National Disaster, which has paved way for the launch of the Revised Zimbabwe Humanitarian Appeal by Government and the United Nations.
Between now and April next year, over US$331 million is required to feed an estimated 5,5 million people.
Since the launch of the programme, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its development partners have raised US$100 million towards the cause.
Treasury has also set aside $624 million for grain imports.