Locals harvest unripe crops

maize_good_cropBULAWAYO - Villagers in Matabeleland have been harvesting immature crops as starvation begins to cripple the drought-prone area.

Matabeleland South Provincial Administrator, David Mpofu, confirmed this while appealing to stakeholders to act swiftly before lives are lost due to hunger.

“People are now harvesting immature crops because if they don’t, the crops will wilt. Besides, they don’t have food so they are eating what they have. Relevant stakeholders should jump in because the situation is bad,” he said.

Matabeleland South and North, with a combined population of about 2 million people, are in dire need of food aid.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai went to the two provinces to assess the gravity of the situation and pledged that the government would put together a budget of US$500 million to address the issue.

The Matabeleland South Provincial Administrator added that the provinces do not only require food relief.

“We are not only appealing for aid for people but for livestock as well. The situation is getting more critical by the day as water sources are drying up,” he said.

The Member of the House of Assembly for Lupane West in Matabeleland North, Martin Khumalo, blamed farmers for poor planning.

“Before the farming season, it was predicted that there would be good rains three months into the farming season and the following three months would be characterised by erratic rainfall. Therefore it was important for the villagers to embark on necessary planning before planting. With such information and the risk of the drought that was predicted farmers were supposed to focus on small grains rather than maize,” said Khumalo.

A survey carried out by ***The Zimbabwean revealed that most of the boreholes in Lupane were broken, making the situation for villagers worse.

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