Esinathy Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
ZIMBABWE has enough grain reserves to feed the nation throughout the year, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Sekai Nzenza, has said.
She said this was established through the Food and Nutrition Council which involves members of Treasury, Ministries of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Industry and Commerce and in particular Agriculture Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.
The council met to assess the current drought situation due to the El-Nino effect and the availability of food in the country.
“We met last week to study the lean assessment of the current drought situation and the availability of food in the country. What emerged is that the country has enough reserves to feed the whole country evenly in the season,” said Dr Nzenza.
Recently, the Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Mr Ringson Chitsiko, said Zimbabwe has not imported any major grains such as maize for the past two years.
He said as at December last year, the country had 1 179 156 tonnes of maize, which is twice the mandatory Strategic Grain Reserve of 500 000 tonnes.
Small grains amounted to 135 935 tonnes.
“The nation is comfortable since the surplus is enough to see us through at least nine months. This means the supply of the staple diet in the country is out of danger,” Mr Chitsiko.
Crops in provinces which usually receive less rainfall have suffered moisture stress due to erratic rainfall experienced this season.
At least half the crop in Matabeleland South province has been declared a write off.
Experts and community leaders have warned that there is a need to immediately put drought mitigation strategies in place to ensure that food is availed to people across the province.
Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services officers (Agritex) in the province said an ongoing crop assessment programme has shown that most of the crop in the province had succumbed to excessive heat and moisture stress as the El Nino effect takes its toll.
The Midlands province on the other hand has been hit by the fall army worm outbreak adding gloom to the maize crop already showing signs of moisture stress due to the pro-longed dry spell.
The fall armyworm has reportedly affected the entire province, a situation that has sent farmers into panic.