Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Zim faces hunger again

Zim faces hunger again

November 10 2011 at 09:01am
By Peta Thornycroft

Zimbabwe’s first rains have fallen, yet hundreds of thousands of the poorest 
farmers have not yet received either seeds or fertiliser from the government 
to plant crops. And the weather department and the Commercial Farmers’ Union 
predict that good rains will only fall until January.

Then the rains will stop, so only early planters will get a crop.

Last year the rainfall pattern was similar, and crops failed almost 
completely in most of Matabeleland South, Midlands, and parts of Masvingo 
and Manicaland provinces.

The seeds and fertiliser arrived four months late last season.

Veteran Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) politician and community leader 
Paul Themba Nyathi said the problem was horrifying.

“We see many children not going to school now because they are too weak, and 
there is so little food aid. There was total crop failure last year.” The 
failure was worst in his home area of Gwanda, south of Bulawayo.

The NGO Solidarity Peace Trust has just released a stark report on rural 
poverty and the lack of seed and fertiliser from the government.

The report said finance minister Tendai Biti had made money available for 
free seed and fertiliser for the 100 000 poorest farming families, and 
subsidised these inputs for another 500 000 vulnerable farming families.

But so far none of the inputs had arrived. Solidarity called on Zimbabwe’s 
civil society to “broaden the demand from the current focus on human and 
political rights to include social and economic rights”.

“Humanitarian relief is urgently needed and the delay in roll-out of feeding 
of vulnerable groups … needs to be ironed out, as many families are already 
compromising severely on their daily food intake,” the report said.

“The grinding poverty of many rural Zimbabweans needs to be a priority with 
government and with the international community: there is a need to urgently 
address matters of economic development, as food handouts cannot be a 
permanent solution.”

Shari Eppel, director of Solidarity Peace Trust, said: “The problem which 
people are facing in Matabeleland South and, I assume, all over country, is 
that there are no free inputs available, and it is absolutely crucial that 
people plant now.

“If they don’t plant this week, we believe there will be total crop failure 
again in several parts of the country.”

Children were crying from hunger during interview sessions with Solidarity, 
and by the second round of interviews in October, adults were noticeably 
weaker, she said.

“This is a real concern about families with children when there is no food 
whatsoever in the house, which is the situation at the moment.”

Eppel also said South Africa should immediately stop deporting illegal 
Zimbabweans as this was just increasing the numbers who had to be fed. The 
UN Children’s Fund Unicef said last week that a third of Zimbabwe’s children 
under five were malnourished. This would hamper their development and blight 
the rest of their lives.

Agriculture minister Joe Made declined to answer questions about the 

His officials announced on Tuesday that they would be delivering vouchers to 
the Grain Marketing Board throughout the country this week, which the 
poorest could exchange for fertiliser and seeds.

But few expect this to happen in time for peasant farmers to get their seeds 
in the ground before December.

Eppel said she was distressed at the lack of emergency food aid available 
for so many hungry people around the country. – Independent Foreign Service


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