Drought relief: 3,3 million to get grain, cash transfers This emerged yesterday when Cabinet received and noted a report on the Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy and Urban Transfer Programme that was presented by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare July Moyo.

Precious Manomano

Herald Reporter

More than 1,6 million vulnerable people in rural areas have already received the standard grain rations of food aid.

These are among the six million who are expected to benefit from the Government’s drought mitigation programme.

Under the programme 1,7 million vulnerable urban dwellers will get US$8 a month to buy mealie meal.

The major expansion of food aid follows the El Nino-induced drought. As part of the drought mitigation measures, the Government gave priority to the worst affected areas and the households that were hard to reach. Under the rural programme, each beneficiary gets a three-month allocation of grain in a single delivery. The monthly ration is 7,5kg per person, translating to 22,5kg per person for three months. So a family of five will receive 112,5kg for the three months.

The monthly ration rises in October to 8,5kg per person, and that will be for both the last three months of the year and first three months of next year. This means that the three-month rations rise to 25,5kg a person, with that same family of five getting 127,5kg. The Government switched from a flat household ration to giving the same personal ration for each person in a household.

The first phase started in May and statistics indicate that 36 585 tonnes have been distributed across the eight rural provinces to 1 630 448 people.

Distribution of grain is still ongoing in the rural areas with the intention to ensure that the 6 million people, who are vulnerable, will not starve.

Giving an update on food distribution yesterday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister July Moyo said Government was working to ensure the smooth implementation of the programme to fight hunger.

He said distribution of food in rural areas was progressing well, adding that a cash for cereal programme would be implemented to cover the vulnerable urban groups, once Treasury availed the resources.

For vulnerable urban dwellers, an individual would get an amount equivalent to the price of a 10kg bag of mealie meal, which was currently around US$8. The amount would be reviewed when Treasury releases funds. 

“We are currently working on the implementation modalities on targeting and registering the eligible people to benefit under the programme. 

“We are targeting the vulnerable population such as orphans, child-headed families, people with disabilities and underprivileged societies who have no source of income,” he said.

Minister Moyo said once the registration process was complete, the programme would start. Both programmes were scheduled to run until March 2025.

He warned the urban beneficiaries not to abuse the funds, adding that they were meant to buy mealie meal for the families.

This week, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said the Government also warned businesses not take advantage of the programme to increase the price of mealie meal.

“We have allowed the private sector to import as much grain as possible during this period to March next year, so that they can supply affordable mealie meal to urban people. We discourage the business sector from profiteering,” he said.

He said the Government had sufficient apparatus to respond and stabilise the prices of mealie meal so that citizens in urban areas could afford to buy it.

Minister Masuka said about 650 000 tonnes of grain was in stock, adding that 560 000 tonnes were adequate to supply the vulnerable people in rural areas to March next year.

Government is currently prioritising irrigation rehabilitation and development as a way of mitigating the effects of climate change.

“On average across the seven catchments in Zimbabwe, the Mzingwane catchment is the hardest hit. We expect as much as 34 percent reduction in rain-fed production. 

“Zimbabwe has responded by putting in place the agricultural food systems transformation strategy, which in a major way, highlights its climate proofing agriculture,” he said.

The Government has 217 000ha of irrigation developed throughout the country against the potential of 2,2 million hectares.

Minister Masuka said all the 10 600 water bodies and 12 major dams under construction should be used wisely for irrigation.

Recently the Government also introduced new measures aimed at ensuring food availability, which will take effect in July, including duty waivers on the import of rice, maize, potato seed, cooking oil and genetically modified maize for stockfeedd, whose milling and distribution will be strictly supervised.

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