Government, working with development partners, has intensified the provision of food aid in all parts of the country, including the less privileged in urban areas, to ensure that no one dies of hunger, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Cde Lovemore Matuke has said.
Further, Government has also fine-tuned the roller meal subsidy to ensure that it benefits the right people through the introduction of the coupon system, while the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe has imported 50 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa to avert the shortage of the staple grain.
The World Food Programme has also chipped in, and is planning to scale up food assistance to reach out to 4,1 million people.
In an interview yesterday, Cde Matuke said President Mnangagwa directed that provision of food aid should be extended to cover urban areas.
“Because of the drought, President ED Mnangagwa directed us to go to urban areas and give people food,” he said. “We hail the support from development partners such as the WFP because that will enable us to have a wider reach and have more beneficiaries.
“Efforts by WFP will ensure that we re-channel our resources to other areas where there is shortage of food.”
Briefing journalists on their operations on Friday, WFP assistant executive director, Ms Valerie Guarnieri, said the organisation was scaling up different programmes to reach out to four million people in the rural areas and 100 000 in urban areas.
In urban areas, WFP is assisting people in Epworth with cash transfers and they were using the money to buy basics such as mealie-meal, cooking oil and sugar.
“In addition to providing emergence assistance, I also had the chance to see the WFP resilience building activities in the country,” said Ms Guarnieri. “This is something that we are doing. It was encouraging to see the assets and rural livelihoods that we have been investing in, building community ownership to assets such as dams for irrigation systems, for agricultural production, to support livestock rearing and nutrition gardens.
“These are some of the activities that will help lift communities out of hunger and food insecurity. Our intention is to continue promoting those activities so that fewer and fewer Zimbabweans are dependent on food assistance even when there is a drought.”
As part of complementing Government efforts, GMAZ has imported 50 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa.
GMAZ chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said millers were appealing to Government to come up with a clear pricing model for subsidised roller meal from imported maize for them to operate efficiently and ensure enough supplies on the market.
“We wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Ncube,
advising him that we have started receiving deliveries of imported white maize, but we are unable to commence milling as we await a comprehensive review of the current subsidies,” he said.
“The millers are seeking clarifications on pricing models from the miller to the wholesale price, miller to retail price and the quantum of subsidy payment from Government to miller and the period of payment to millers.”
Mr Musarara said Government should expedite all outstanding subsidy payments to millers amounting to $80 million.
“Maize deliveries have now started to arrive at our rented Silos at GMB Aspindale and GMB Bulawayo,” said Mr Musarara. “We are grateful to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement (Perrance Shiri) for giving us this silo storage space. Deliveries started to arrive as from 8 February, 2020.”
Mr Musarara said last month they requested the Government to review the price of roller meal to tally with the production costs.
Millers said they required 80 000 tonnes of maize a month for the production of super refined and roller meal to meet demand.
Last week, Government raised the price of subsidised roller meal to $70 for a 10kg packet from $50 to manage speculation by retailers that was resulting in unnecessary shortages.
A Government official, who refused to be named, said the coupon system which will ensure vulnerable members of society access roller meal was still being fine tuned.
He said Government was likely to use the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac) report to identify the needy.
ZimVAC, which acts as a technical advisory committee, is comprised of representatives from Government, development partners, United Nations, non-governmental organisations, technical agencies and the academia.