By Ndatenda Njanike
JAPAN has donated approximately 20 000 metric tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe under the Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy (FDMS).
The maize will be distributed through the World Food Programme (WFP) and the donation is meant to meet the essential food security needs of vulnerable households.
A similar donation of 30 000 metric tonnes of maize was delivered by Japan and WFP to the government in June 2020.
The maize was procured from South Africa and was delivered to the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) silos in Harare and Bulawayo.
The donation when Zimbabwe is facing serious food shortages induced by drought, inflation and Covid-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the vulnerability levels as the livelihoods of informal sector workers have been affected by the lockdown.
Japan’s contribution of maize also comes at a crucial period for Zimbabwe, on the backdrop of a third successive year of drought, which characterised the 2019/20 agricultural season when maize production fell by 7% compared to the 2018/19 season.
However, with the country experiencing an above normal rainfall season, crop production is expected to improve in 2021, but is still expected to remain at a level of 30% below the five- and ten-year averages.
The total number of food insecure people now stands at 7.7 million – almost half the population- but the number is expected to go down as the country’s prospects of a good harvest are high.
Receiving the donation, Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima, said; “The government, through the Ministry of Social Welfare would like to acknowledge receipt of 20 000 metric tonnes of grain from WFP. The gesture was extended as a way of complementing government efforts in ensuring food security to vulnerable households in the country.
“This came against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic which caused depletion of the sources of livelihoods of our populace, hence exacerbating their food insecurity. Therefore, the government appreciates the efforts by our all-weather friend WFP and its cooperating partners in ensuring zero tolerance to hunger.”
Satoshi Tanaka, the Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe added; “The Government of Japan decided to provide this donation of maize given the severity of the current humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
“I hope that, through WFP and FDMS, it will reach the most vulnerable households as soon as possible so that they can meet their basic needs. WFP’s agile supply chain and global expertise in food procurement and logistics services makes us a trusted and reliable broker in such a valuable partnership between Japan and Zimbabwe.”
Francesca Erdelmann, the WFP country representative said the international aid organisation would continue to support Zimbabwe as it strives to eradicate hunger by 2030.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Government of Zimbabwe to support and complement its efforts to improve food security in Zimbabwe and together strive towards Zero Hunger by 2030,” she said.