Ellen Chasokela Herald Reporter
The country has over 800 000 metric tonnes of maize in stock, enough to feed the people for the next seven months, a senior Government official has said. In a speech read on his behalf by his secretary Mr Ringson Chitsiko yesterday at a meeting held by the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) on drought assessment, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri said stocks of maize and small grains at GMB stood at 832 156 tonnes.
“At the current monthly drawdown rate of 120 000 tonnes, the available grain is sufficient to last about seven months,” said Minister Shiri.
“The Second Round Crop and Livestock Assessment Report will soon be presented to Cabinet and the nation will thereafter be officially informed of the results of the assessment.
“With the projected below average production, grain imports are inevitable and the magnitude will be determined after the assessment.”
Minister Shiri said Government had come up with drought mitigation measures to ensure national food security.
“The measures include emergency relief and drought response to affected areas in all provinces, drilling of boreholes under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) whereby 350 boreholes will be drilled across the country during 2019, with a focus on drought-prone areas,” he said.
“There will also be drought monitoring and early warning systems being carried out by the departments of Meteorological Services and Crop and Livestock Production, hay baling programme for the hay to be distributed to the major affected areas of livestock production and procurement of livestock vaccines and dipping chemicals through the Special Livestock Programme.
“The 2018/19 ZimVAC Rural Livelihoods Assessment (RLA) projected that approximately 28 percent (2,4 million people) of the rural population shall be food insecure during the peak hunger period (January to March 2019).This means food insecurity prevalence is 51 percent for the rural households, an increase from the 28 percent projected in 2018.
“Matabeleland North (58 percent) has the highest proportion of food insecure households, while Mashonaland Central and Midlands (47 percent) have the lowest. Cumulatively, the food insecure rural households require a total of 720 707 tonnes of cereal to meet their need over 13 months. The food insecure urban households require a total of 500 320 tonnes of cereal to meet their needs over 13 months.”
Minister Shiri said Government would continue releasing maize to millers to ensure consistency in the supply of mealie meal, especially in Manicaland which was hard hit by Cyclone Idai.
He hailed the private sector for stepping up to the plate despite the economic challenges facing the country.
“This effort bears testimony to the fact that the grain industry has put interests of the nation at heart,” said Minister Shiri. “As Government we support these private sector interventions, as they complement the national policy of ensuring food security at household and national levels.”