Original Post Date: 2010-02-08 Time: 13:00:02 Posted By: News Poster
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Bulawayo – Over two million Zimbabweans face starvation before the harvest season in March, a huge jump from the December figure of 1,74 million, a survey conducted by a USAid food monitoring agency has revealed.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) said the number of Zimbabweans in need of emergency food aid now stands at 2,17 million.
“The number of food-insecure people in both rural and urban areas was estimated at 1,74 million between October and December 2009, 66% of them in the rural areas,” Fewsnet warned in a report released on Tuesday.
“This is projected to rise to 2,17 million between January and March 2010, as cereal stocks among farming households bottom out and household incomes remain low.”
The projected food shortages, worsened by a prolonged dry spell during the current cropping season, have added pressure on the cash-strapped coalition government to import food.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made last week said the country needs to urgently import 500 000 tonnes of maize to avert the food shortages.
“What is critical is that the Ministry of Finance should already start work on the basis of the national grain reserves, which are known to be 500 000 tonnes,” Made told the state media.
Made said the government would produce its first crop assessment report on February 15.
The grain shortages have been worsened by Zanu PF’s renewed onslaught on white-owned commercial farmers.
Farmer organisations have forecast a disastrous season saying the country needs to import more than half its annual grain requirements of two million tonnes.
Zimbabwe has faced food shortages since 2000 following the chaotic land reform programme that saw landless blacks, with the approval of President Robert Mugabe, drive out white commercial farmers.
The disturbances resulted in the collapse of the agricultural sector which was the backbone of the economy.
Original Source: Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
Original date published: 6 February 2010