AS the world commemorates World Food Day today, about 2,2 million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid following successive droughts that have hit mostly the country’s southern parts.
Calls have increased for the government to look into the issue of drought with some politicians, saying the present distribution of nine tonnes of maize per district was way below what is required to avert starvation.
Zanu PF senator Alma Mkhwebu recently called on the government to act on the acute food shortages for villagers and livestock in Matabeleland South province.
Mkhwebu said the nine tonnes of maize that President Robert Mugabe said would be given to each district as food relief were not enough.
“As I have said before, drought is very prevalent where I come from and I plead with the government to make sure that there is enough food for everyone,” Mkhwebu said.
In a recent interview with Southern Eye, Agriculture minister Joseph Made said the Grain Marketing Board was importing maize which would be distributed in the drought-stricken parts of the country.
“From a grain point of view, we are already importing grain to address that. Food is now going direct to Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, the southern parts of the Midlands and Manicaland,” Made said.
He, however, said the challenge was the weather pattern in the southern parts of the country.
“The rains will start normal, but go away in the second half of the season,” Made said, adding that there was need for speedy provision of inputs for farmers to take advantage of the early rains.
“There is also the issue of power in the production of fertiliser which is always a challenge.
Fertiliser companies must be supplied with undisturbed power so that they are able to produce within the targeted time,” he said.
Last week, Pumula legislator Albert Mhlanga donated foodstuffs to villagers at St Peter’s on the outskirts of Bulawayo saying urban areas had also been severely affected by drought.
St Peter’s, Robert Sinyoka, Trenance, Killarney and Methodist are some of the worst affected urban settlements where residents revealed they only have a plate of isitshwala/sadza once a week after begging for maize meal.