|Food shortages: Govt should take stock of activities in agricultural sector|
|Saturday, 14 July 2012 21:25|
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With so many people employed in industries that draw their raw materials from agriculture, its leisurely demise is naturally affecting those industries and companies, further exposing thousands to the streets and to the vagaries of the harsh economic climate while the rural folk that used to eke out a living from selling agricultural surplus no longer have the capacity to do so due to a multifarious array of factors militating against their one time source of livelihood.
Both urban and rural folks in most cases can now hardly afford the basic three meals a day and have limited them to one and are living as poor as church mice while the few that can still afford to keep such domestic animals like dogs and cats are keeping a check on their numbers.
It is within that background, therefore, that the inclusive Government needs to take stock of what it is doing in trying to combat the continued staggering fortunes of the agricultural sector to avoid the current overreliance of the communities on the Western donor community to feed them.
Although the food shortages in the country can be traced to changes in climate, where rainfall has become so scarce when plenty is expected and plenty when little is expected, little has been done in that direction to make people aware of the global warming predicament they are faced with and are likely going to continue facing hence the amount of resistance that some communities are giving to advice that they should grow drought-resistant small grain crops.
Government is also failing to provide alternatives such as irrigation water in rain- fed agricultural areas let alone bring to life those it once laid out in drought-prone areas.
Presently millions of people in the southern region of the country are stared in the face by a serious drought with incessant calls for Government to double or treble the grain loan scheme allocation to the most affected provinces and remove red tape in the distribution of food.
Government has also been called upon to respond to the rising food prices phenomenon by increasing agricultural productivity through enhanced access to inputs and financial resources and stop politicking about bread and butter issues.
It also emerged that livestock is not spared as pastures have seriously dwindled in most parts of the region known for cattle ranching thereby threatening the national herd.
In separate interviews with the Sunday News, Provincial Governors for Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North and Masvingo as well as provincial administrator for Midlands Province confirmed that the situation in their provinces was gloomy.
They concurred that although Government was making efforts to ensure no life is lost due to the grinding effects of drought, there was need to increase significantly the allocation of grain to their four most affected provinces.
They also called on mechanisms to be put in place to guarantee that communities, especially those that cannot afford supplementary feeding do not lose their livestock in the most affected areas.
Matabeleland South Governor Cde Angeline Masuku said nothing had changed in her province. She said if anything the situation was worsening as a handful that was lucky to have harvested something was also getting in the red thereby increasing the number of people in need of food.
She said although Government was through the grain loan scheme providing communities, the allocation was not enough and they were faced with transport problems to ferry the grain to other affected areas.
“There is no much change. I do not think we are going to talk of any change for the better as long as there are no rains and people have not planted. The drought is there and its effects are being felt not only on people but livestock as well. There are no pastures and fears are that people are going to lose their cattle.
“Government is making efforts, however, to try and ensure all people are catered for through the grain loan scheme where people are getting grain on a loan basis. However, not everyone is getting and we are making efforts to ensure that everyone affected is getting something no matter small.
“The biggest challenge that we are facing is that of transport to ferry grain to other depots in the province. But the long and short of the story is that the situation in the entire province is not well,’’ she said.