via Zimbabwe Hoping Heavy Rains Can ‘Wash Away Hunger’ by Ntungamili Nkomo 03.01.2014 VOAZimbabwe
The heavy rains currently pounding Zimbabwe have raised hopes of improved harvests among millions facing hunger, with the government scrambling to replenish dwindling national grain reserves that have dunked to critical levels.
Subsistence and large scale farmers say they are hoping the wet spell can linger on and translate to a bumper harvest that will extricate the country from its perennial food shortages.
“It is definitely a good sign that we might get a bumper crop,” said Difference Dube of Jutjume village in Plumtree District.
“The rains have covered the whole country and many people are positive that as long as they continue, the harvest prospects look bright.”
The Ministry of Agriculture said Friday the country only had 300,000 metric tons of maize in its strategic reserves, against the national annual consumption of 2 million tonnnes.
The government is frantically trying to close the shortfall with a planned 150,000 tonnage of grain imports from South Africa and other neighboring countries.
Faced with a gloomy economic outlook, experts say Zimbabwe is expected to incur a huge food import bill this year due to the gapping food deficit.
Community leaders in different parts of the country urged government to ramp up its food security endeavors and ensure large-scale aid distribution by humanitarian aid agencies.
In central Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province, Mberengwa West legislator Joram Gumbo told VOA while aid distribution was already underway, increased relief was needed.
“The food situation is not that good because the GMB at Mataga has got very little, if anything at all to supply the locals,” Gumbo said.
The lawmaker added however, that “food distribution is going on very well; our people are receiving assistance from the World Food Program through Care International, so we are happy about that.”
In Lupane District, Matabeleland North, the situation is not as promising as in some parts of Plumtree and Midlands, according to former Member of Parliament Njabuliso Mguni.
Humanitarian agencies say 2, 2 million Zimbabweans, especially in the countryside, will require food aid until the next harvest in April.