Drought and food crisis in Zimbabwe (afrol)

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afrol News


Zimbabwe confronts food crisis

afrol News, 6 July The government of Zimbabwe has accepted a looming severe food shortage in the country. The ZANU-PF government said it would accept food aid from the international community but only on humanitarian grounds. Over the years, Zimbabwe had been at the daggers’ end of rights activists for trampling on the rights of citizens, especially the opposition, civil society and the media. Knowing fully that the donor community would press for political and human rights corrections to prevail as a condition attached to their food aid, the government was quick to sound the bell that they would not welcome such donors. No aid with political strings attached are welcome even Zimbabweans will die of hunger.
After declaring the 2007 as the year of drought, the Zimbabwean government had invited experts from WFP and FAO to assess the country’s food situation.

“I have received a preliminary report from (WFP/FAO) which confirms our earlier fears of food shortages,” Zimbabwe’s Minister of Agriculture, Rugare Gumbo, said.

“In their report they are saying the country will this year harvest between 600 000 and 800 000 tonnes of grain, which falls far short of the national requirement of about 2 million tonnes. In my view, I think this is a fair assessment.”

Over the past seven years, Zimbabwe has gone through acute shortages of food mainly because of recurrent droughts. But the government’s radical land reforms which led to the transfer of lands from white own farmers to blacks has also led to the food crisis. Zimbabwe used to be the food basket of the Southern Africa region.

The head of the European Commissioner’s Humanitarian Aid Office for Africa, Cees Wittebrood, who visited the Southern African country, blamed the food crisis on the failure of the overall government policy on agriculture.

“Zimbabwe has faced droughts before but was very much capable of dealing with a drought thanks to effective governance. They had the systems, water reservoirs, irrigation, inputs, knowledge and technology to survive a period without rain. But they don’t have that any longer – because the agricultural policy and their policy in general is failing – the drought can give them (farmers) that last push over the edge.”

It is reported that Zimbabwean police have forced food sellers to reduce the price of the country’s staple food, maize, the price of which plummeted.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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