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Food security questioned



AGRICULTURE minister Anxious Masuka says Zimbabwe will have enough grain in 2024, but farmers’ groupings say damage has already been inflicted on food security by the adverse effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon.


In a post-cabinet Press briefing this week, Masuka said there will be enough grain before the commencement of the next maize/traditional grains intake.

“The nation is informed that a total of 3 027 559 hectares was planted to crops during the 2023/2024 summer season, out of the targeted 3 674 000 hectares. Of the total planted area, 1 676 274 hectares was planted to maize, 362 541 hectares to sorghum, 141 169 hectares to pearl mil[1]let, and 271 823 hectares to groundnuts.

“A cumulative 2 283 272 metric tonnes of maize and 271 623 metric tonnes of traditional grains is expected from the planted area,” read the briefing.

 Adding: “Zimbabwe consumes 2.2 million metric tonnes of maize/tradition[1]al grains (1.8 metric tonnes for food and 400 000 for stock feed). This translates to 6 027 metric tonnes daily, with 4 931 metric tonnes going towards human consumption. The monthly human consumption requirement is 150 000 metric tonnes.” However, on the other hand Women in Agriculture Union (WAW) dispute the certainty of Masuka’s presentation to cabinet. 

Speaking to The NewsHawks, Olga Nhari, the national coordinator of WAU, said while farmers are hoping for the better, damage has been done by the El Niño effect, which has seen diminished rainfall levels.

“Ahead of the El Niño weather conditions, crops have wilted in some regions of the country due to extremely dry conditions and other regions have had their seeds being flooded due to too much rain[1]fall, hence this year’s agricultural output is not yet clear,” said Nhari.

Adding: “However, as farmers we always hope for the better, we are hoping to fill the silos ahead of the tricky season since some affected farmers have also re-planted.”    

Economist Prosper Chitambara also said 2024 could be a tough year for Zimbabweans due to the drought’s blighting effect.

“With the increase in taxes, we have already seen prices going up, which is going to affect citizens through an erosion of disposable incomes so it is a very challenging year, especially if agricultural output slumps on account of the El Niño effect,” said Chitambara.

“This year could be very challenging for ordinary citizens if there is a drought as we are in the middle of an El Niño event. It’s not yet clear though that the rains will be normal or below normal although the projection is that it’s going to be below normal which is likely to affect agricultural output which also will put pressure on food prices.”

Economist Vince Musewe said Zimbabwe is likely to experience depressed economic growth this year, forecasting an increase in food prices due to lower rainfall.

“As we all know, agriculture is one the largest contributors to economic growth. So if things do not go right there, we will suffer economic growth, whether it’s the agricultural sector itself or factories that depend on inputs from agriculture and that actually increases the prices of food because of food shortages, so we get food inflation because of drought,” Musewe said.

He added: “When there is drought or unstable weather in the agricultural sector, 70% of our population living in the rural areas that is highly dependent on agriculture for food security is affected, so when there is a problem there, it has s a serious impact on livelihoods as it increases hunger levels and poverty since Zimbabwe’s economy is an agrarian economy.”

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