Food-Aid can go hang …we have produced enough food: Grace

By Daniel Chigundu

FIRST-LADY Grace Mugabe says donor agencies and development partners are now a threat and should take their Food-Aid elsewhere this season adding that the country has produced enough to feed its people.

Zimbabwe is said to require about 2.2 million metric tonnes of maize to ensure food security and self sustenance from one season to another.

However, since 2000 when the country embarked on the violent land reform exercise, the resettled farmers have failed dismally to produce enough grain to meet the country’s grain target requirement.

The situation was made worse by the multiple climate change induced droughts experienced in the country in the past 10 years, resulting in government importing grain and appealing for US$1.5 billion in donor assistance from development partners.

Development partners such as USAid, UKAid, World Food Program, World Vision, FAO and Care International, among others responded to the government’s call.

However, speaking in Marondera, the First Lady said the country does not need Food-Aid this season and that NGOs should not come into the country with their aid.

“There are opportunities that I have mentioned, agriculture is another good opportunity and this season it went well, we didn’t sow our seeds in vain. God gave us good rains and we are told there will be a bumper harvest.

“So we are very thankful to God because we are going to have enough food. There are opportunities and threats are also there, especially with these emerging new political parties.

“We need to continue telling the youths that these new parties have nothing to offer them. And the NGOs that are there, we are appealing to government take another look at them.

“These NGOs that are coming, at times they are coming to give food to the people, but now there is no need that they should bring food, because we have produced enough food for ourselves, so we don’t want to see them coming here, to cause confusion,” she said.

According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerable Assessment Committee findings, about 5 million people required food assistance between January and March 2017.

However, Zimbabwe has had a good 2016/17 agricultural season buoyed by good rains, Command Agriculture program and the Presidential Inputs Scheme among many others.

According to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa the grain that will be harvested this season will surpass the country’s requirement of 2.2 million metric tonnes.

About 20 000 farmers across the country subscribed to the Command Agriculture program where they were tasked with planting about 400 000 hectares of maize during the 2016/17 agricultural season.

Before the land reform exercise, Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of Africa owing to the excess grain it was producing, but had now become dependent on imports from such countries as Zambia, South Africa and Brazil.

Vice President Mnangagwa told delegates at the National Annual Agribusiness Conference which normally holds on the sidelines of the Harare Agricultural Show that importing grain was costing the country huge sums of unbudgeted money.

Meanwhile, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) issued a statement a few weeks ago arguing that Command Agriculture is set to fail because it is build on the wrong foundations and that such programs have failed elsewhere.

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