Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Government has procured 615 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia and Ukraine for distribution to some of the close to three million people facing food shortages across the country, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
Speaking to journalists after delivering a lecture to students attending the Joint Command and Staff Course Number 29 at Staff College in Harare yesterday, VP Mnangagwa said although the grain import target stood at 1,4 million tonnes, the acquired maize had moved the country into a safe zone.
“Zambia has been good to us — two or three weeks ago they allocated another 115 000 tonnes of maize for us to purchase and fortunately this time around we have the money to pay,” he said.
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“We secured some funds for that purpose from the Exim Bank as well as from China. We also have secured another 500 000 tonnes from Ukraine with logistics of bringing that maize to Zimbabwe underway,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“Now, with that we are already in a comfortable zone to go through the period which we think we have food insufficiency. Our vulnerable population, according to the survey, we now have about three million of our population who are suffering from food insecurity,” he said.
“With the quantities so far procured, we think we are comfortable. We will continue to see whether we can augment that. Our target is to reach 1,4 million tonnes.”
The Food Security and Nutrition committee chaired by VP Mnangagwa started mobilising grain following a declaration of the 2015 to 2016 farming season as a national disaster by President Mugabe early this month.
Said VP Mnangagwa: “It is true that Zimbabwe is currently experiencing food insecurity because the strategic reserve that we have is not adequate for the period between this current season and the next season.
“As a result of that, the committee that I chair, the Food Security and Nutrition, has worked out the quantities Zimbabwe might need to take us through.
“We believe that we need around 1, 4 million tonnes of maize to take us through to the next season in 2017.”
When he launched the domestic food assistance appeal to captains of industry last week, VP Mnangagwa said the season was below normal for 95 percent of Zimbabwe despite scattered rainfall received in some parts of the country.
The current drought is a result of an El Nino phenomenon which is usually characterised by prolonged dry spells or occasional floods.
The El Nino has affected most of the countries in the Sadc region.
Preliminary indications from the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee Report showed that provinces with the highest proportion of the food insecure populations include Matabeleland North at 40 percent, Midlands at 30 percent, Mashonaland East at 17 percent and Mashonaland Central at 21 percent.
Dam levels were also declining due to the poor rainfall season and the national average was currently 51 percent full for all the catchment areas except for Manyame and Mazowe which were below national average.
Boreholes have not been spared as they are drying up particularly in the southern provinces while 31 percent are dysfunctional.