We will be able to feed ourselves

Zimbabwe will not carry a begging bowl and because it has enough grain to feed its people and there has not been much crop loss this season despite the late rains Finance Minister Tendai Biti said yesterday.

Biti was responding to questions on whether the country is gearing up for a drought given the erratic and late rains particularly in December the Minister said the loss would not be more than 10% of the projected crop of 1.8 million metric tones.

“We may not be able to meet the projected 1.8 million metric tones due to late rains and some farmers may not have planted between November 15 and December 15 the traditional planting period but the loss will not be more than 10%.

“The 2011 season had a mini drought between January and February and we had a loss of around 11 % but still produced 1.5 million metric tones of grain,” Biti said. He said the other issue to consider is that Zimbabwe’s Strategic Grain Reserves are intact.

“I am happy to say the country’s Strategic Grain Reserves are intact with 500 000 metric tones for the first time in recent history and we used quite a lot of money for this.

“We will be able to feed our people without any hiccups and I have met with farmers representatives the feedback from them is positive for now and our losses for now are minimal,” Biti said.

Regional updates show that most SADC countries have stopped selling maize with only Zambia still selling, Malawi and South Africa have stopped with Zimbabwe’s southern neighbor actually buying from Zambia.

“South Africa has stopped selling maize and buying from Zambia while Malawi has also stopped selling.

“We have advised our millers to buy as much grain as they can from Zambia to augment what we have but we will pull through,” he said.

The Finance Minister said some crops might not necessarily qualify as commercial but will not be write-offs so they can be downgraded to subsistence which is usable by the majority of Zimbabweans.

Biti said, “Traditionary peasant farmers have produced 60 % of the country’s grain and this trend should continue.”

Zimbabwe has over the past decade or so been hit by droughts and an agricultural meltdown precipitated by violent farm invasions that saw most commercial farmers lose their land to formerly peasant farmers.

The new farmers have largely failed to utilize the acquired land for the benefit of Zimbabweans

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