Food relief: Govt releases 81 000t of grain to cover 2 months Speaking at the Esigodini Agricultural College in Umzingwane district, Prof Jiri said that every school would be convened by a village head and run by farmers.

Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter

THE Government is ready to distribute 81 000 tonnes of grain for the next two months to vulnerable groups to ensure that every household is food secure in the face of drought.

This comes after President Mnangagwa recently declared the El Niño-induced drought a national disaster, stating that the country is mobilising US$2 billion to help millions of people who do not have enough food.

Announcing the declaration, the President said this would allow comprehensive efforts to mobilise the needed resources and reassured the nation that the Government would ensure that no person and no place would be left without sustenance.

Already, the Government has distributed more than 6 300 tonnes of grain to vulnerable communities across the country’s rural provinces.

Under a state of disaster, the Government can reallocate resources and take other emergency measures to cope.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary, Professor Obert Jiri, said about 81 000 tonnes of grain will be distributed to vulnerable groups from this month until June, adding that assessments are still ongoing to establish the vulnerability of the population in communal areas.

“The Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare has requested 71 000 tonnes of grain for January to March and the grain was not exhausted. For April, May and June they have requested 81 000 tonnes. This is not the real value since assessments are in progress. Vulnerability is high because the majority did not have a good harvest,” he said.

Priority, he added, will be given to child-headed families, the elderly, disabled and also able-bodied, who did not get meaningful harvests. An individual will get 7,5 kg of grain per month among other supplementary feeding programmes.

In a recent interview, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Mr Simon Masanga said assessments are being done to ensure that all food-insecure people are assisted. Several interventions have been implemented by the Government to ensure that households are food secure.

This involves rehabilitation and construction of irrigation schemes to ensure 350 000ha are put under irrigation for the summer season. 

This year 10 000 boreholes and 10 000 Village Business Units will also be established to ensure adequate water for people, livestock and wildlife.

Government is also encouraging private sector participation through importation of food to ensure no one will die of hunger.

Plans to increase the wheat hectarage to 120 000ha are also another way to ensure food security and winter maize projects in areas such as Chiredzi, Muzarabani and Binga will be reactivated towards drought mitigation.

Zimbabweans are optimistic that no one will die of hunger following Government’s efforts to mobilise grain that will go a long way in sustaining people’s lives.

Mr Zororai Makwiramiti, of Uzumba in Mashonaland East Province, said Government’s commitment to save people’s lives is greatly appreciated.

“We are grateful to hear that all vulnerable groups will benefit. This year was not a good one compared with the previous years when we used to produce bumper harvests. We are happy that our Government is making frantic efforts to ensure that all the underprivileged people are assisted,” he said.

Ms Agness Takaruza, of Mbire in Mashonaland Central, said Government has been assisting their community since last season.

“Our area does not receive good rainfall almost every year so we rely on aid from the Government and its partners. We appreciate what Government is doing for us,” she said.

Government has been feeding about 2,7 million vulnerable groups since last year.

Zambia and Malawi, also hit by the El Niño drought, have already declared their food deficit situations as disasters.

The naturally occurring El Niño climate pattern, which emerged in mid-2023, usually increases global temperatures for a year afterward.

It is currently fuelling fires and record heat waves across the world.

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