Prospects of a good harvest have vanished in the wake of the drought that has hit the country. There has been isolated rainfall in some areas, but its erratic nature has not helped matters, as most crops have suffered from sustained periods of moisture stress to the extent that not much would be salvaged.
In the midst of the food problems caused by drought, it is refreshing to note that Government has not just sat back hoping for a miracle to save the crops and ensure food security, but has stepped up measures to ensure that no one starves.
Government has admirably been proactive in matters concerning food security and has to date secured $200 million in lines of credit to import grain. It is hoped the money and more that will be mobilised by the various development partners would greatly assist in replenishing the grain stocks until the next harvest in 2017.
We commend Government for not having waited until harvesting in April or thereabout to ascertain the extent of food problems. It has tackled the matter head-on and also issued, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, grain import permits to allow millers and other private players to bring in maize.
The issue of food security has always been a matter of concern to the Government and whenever food security is threatened, Government does not take time to intervene. This is precisely what a Government that concerns itself with the interests of its people should be doing to ensure that, in times like these where the El Nino-induced drought has ravaged most parts of the country, the people can still afford smiles on their faces in the knowledge that their Government is committed to tackling the food problems.
Many people had started panicking, unsure of where they will get grain from, but these efforts by the Government should allay all the fears as the lines of credit that have been secured are part of measures to guarantee food security.
Free movement of grain from areas of surplus has also been allowed. In addition, Government has ordered the Grain Marketing Board to import 230 000 tonnes of maize, starting with 30 000 tonnes that are urgently required.
While the bulk of the burden to ensure food availability is placed on the shoulders of the Government, we believe, in such trying times, it cannot be wholly left to Government alone. It also needs the private sector to play ball for there is no one who can expect a hungry workforce to be motivated enough to perform to the best of its ability.
It heartening to note that a private sector initiative launched late last year is expected to import 700 000 tonnes to complement the efforts of Government while millers were given permits to import 1,2 million tonnes of maize in the past 12 months.
We are excited by the level of commitment of everyone in ensuring no one starves. It reminds us of the saying that: “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together’’.
This is exactly what this unity of purpose is proving that you can achieve more if you work together. The problem of drought ceases to be a Government problem, a Zanu-PF matter, a private sector issue ,but a national concern that requires everyone to be pulling in one direction to ensure we ride over the food security problem caused by drought.
Zimbabwe requires about 1,8 million tonnes of maize a year for human and livestock consumption.
We thus appeal to authorities to ensure that everyone who requires maize gets it without consideration of their political affiliation and that corrupt leaders have no place in food distribution.
The millers are also expected to be fair in their maize meal pricing and not to take advantage of the problem to profiteer.