Japan donates to food relief, blames weather conditions

The Japanese government last week announced a multi-million dollar donation towards hunger relief efforts in Zimbabwe, amid growing concerns of a looming food crisis.

Announcing the donation Thursday, Japan said it had contributed more than $4.2 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to boost food and nutrition security among some of the poorest families in Zimbabwe.

Early this month, the WFP that more than two million people will need food assistance between January and March 2014, following a study conducted in conjunction with other agencies.

In a statement, Japan said the contribution will go towards funding various WFP initiatives, “including programmes to assist vulnerable rural households until the next harvest and to help malnourished HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients, women and children.”

“Unfavourable weather patterns continue to have a negative effect on harvests, resulting in widespread food insecurity,” read part of the statement.

Economist Eddie Cross said there was more to the looming crisis than just the cited weather conditions.

“For more than 10 years now we have been unable to grow enough food to feed our own people. Zimbabwe slipped in to a grain deficit around 1992 and since then, we have been unable to get out of that situation,” Cross saod.

“We no longer produce significant quantities of wheat and we only produce about 30% of our maize requirements in a normal season and importing about 70% of our food overall,” Cross revealed.

Cross disagreed that the weather was solely to blame for the low grain production in the country, saying areas such as Matebeleland North had normal weather.

“This is really not weather or drought-related. This is a crisis of income and poverty which can only be rectified by addressing the wider issues in the country,” Cross said.

He added that there was need for the government to address the issue of land security if food production is to increase in the country.

“No farming families at the moment have security in the country. The land can be taken at a moment’s notice by any one of the half-a-dozen competing interests in their districts,” Cross said.

“There is also the issue of inputs such as fertilizer, seed, fuel, capacity and all the systems that have broken down over the years and you can’t talk about reviving agriculture with bringing these to a functioning state,” Cross added.

Earlier this month, Commercial Farmers Union President Charles Taffs told SW Radio Africa that Zimbabwe’s food shortage was “man-made agricultural crisis,” after more than a decade of destructive policies, including land grabs. He said it will take political will to pull the country back from the brink.

“We have been avoiding dealing with this issue for too long now. Zimbabwe has the resources, it has the land, and it has the ability to produce food. Now we need investor confidence to be restored and farming to resume,” Taffs said. – SW Radio Africa

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *