Govt unveils comprehensive drought mitigation plan

15 May, 2024 - 08:05 0 Views
Govt unveils comprehensive drought mitigation plan Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere (right), Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi (second from left), Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka (second right), and Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona (left) chat at the 14th post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare yesterday. — Picture Innocent Makawa

The Sunday News

Judith Phiri, Business Reporter

GOVERNMENT has put in place a cocktail of measures including availing food aid to both urban and rural areas to feed at least 7.7 million people in the wake of the devastating drought.

This comes after President Mnangagwa last month declared the 2023/2024 agricultural season State of National Disaster following the El Nino-induced subdued rainfall pattern which resulted in food deficit in many areas leaving most families in need of food aid.

Cabinet on Tuesday received an update on the 2023/2024 Summer Crop Marketing, Food Security Outlook to March 2025 and Winter Cereals Production Plan for 2024, as presented by Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka.

In a post-Cabinet briefing, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Dr Jenfan Muswere said the 7.7 million excludes a further 4.5 million who would require school meals.

The Second Round of Crops, Livestock and Fisheries Assessment of 18 April 2024; and the Rapid Village-based Food Assessment concluded on 15 April 2024 established that 6 million people in rural areas will require assistance between May 2024 and March 2025.

“The Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Committee (ZimLAC) Report indicated that 1.7 million people who reside in urban areas will require assistance. A total of 7.7 million people, being 51% of the population will require food assistance. This excludes a further 4.5 million who would require school meals,” he said.

He said the grain stock at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as at 9 May 2024 stood at 423 779 metric tonnes, while the private sector is expected to import all the stockfeed requirements of 400 000 metric tonnes, and urban maize requirements of up to 450 000 metric tonnes to March 2025.

The Minister said the private sector has capacity to import 1 000 000 metric tonnes to mitigate the effect of the drought.

Regarding winter cereals production, he said: “A total of 712 500 metric tonnes of wheat, barley, maize, sorghum, and potatoes are planned to be produced this winter from the available irrigation area of 142 000 hectares. All the wheat production enablers including power, water, seed and fertilizers are being tracked on a weekly basis.”

Dr Muswere said Cabinet advises that the 2024 cotton marketing season will be from 1 to 30 June 2024.

He said farmers will receive 75 percent of their payments in US$ and 25 percent in ZiG.

“All outstanding payments by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe amounting to US$2.65 million and 2.8 million in ZiG will be cleared by 31 May 2024. The grade-based pricing system will be announced once ongoing consultations are concluded.”

Regarding tobacco, the Minister said Cabinet advises that as at 8 May 2024, 116.4 million kilogrammes of tobacco were sold at an average price of US$3.57/kg, with decentralised floors accounting for 35 percent of the total tobacco sold under contract.

He said the Africa Regional and Annual Tobacco Conference will be held in Harare from 15 to 16 May 2024.

“The topics for discussion include the following; production challenges and opportunities; sustainability of the tobacco sector; contracting models; and future prospects of the tobacco sector in Africa,” added Dr Muswere.

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