As we all know, the last main farming season was one of the worst since independence in 1980. An estimated 1.4 million people need food assistance because of poor rains and widespread shortages of inputs, according to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee.
This is no small figure, by any standards, and we were expecting to be appraised on what government is doing to address the deficit. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and we suspect nothing concrete is taking place.
Reports coming from the humanitarian community and the media are extremely disturbing. Already, some food insecure communities are resorting to desperate measures, like eating wild roots and fruits.
Hungry rural households are selling their livestock for a song in order to beat hunger. In a bid to deal with immediate food needs, they are already making themselves more vulnerable to future insecurities as they will not have enough draught power in coming seasons.
The current and potential vulnerabilities require a holistic strategy. The government, by virtue of its mandate to look after its people, should shoulder that burden. The humanitarian stakeholders play only a complementary role.
Government is supposed to ensure that enough grain is imported to meet demand and that, of course, obligates it to mobilize funding for purchases.
After that, there is need to ensure that the imported grain is equitably distributed and sold at affordable prices.
While the current grain loan scheme that entails rolling out grain to hungry communities with the provision for future repayment is commendable, if rather impractical, it has been tainted by partisan tendencies. Some sections of the population are excluded on political grounds.
As it stands, the national grain silos are in a sorry state, and we call upon the government to ensure that the GMB repairs them.
GMB officials have admitted that they are at times being forced to sell grain initially earmarked for human consumption to farmers as livestock feed because it has lost value due to the deplorable condition of the silos.
Zimbabwe cannot afford this unnecessary loss, considering the magnitude of our food insecurity.
Attending to the silos need not be a short-term intervention, but one that is done in such a way as to address future challenges as well.Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga