Watchdog urges govt to declare food crisis national disaster

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

A LOCAL food security watchdog has urged the government to declare Zimbabwe’s food security situation a national disaster so as to unlock financial support from various local and international partners.

Eye on Food Security Zimbabwe said it was concerned about the deteriorating food security situation in the country.

“We would like to urge the government of President ED Mnangagwa to declare the food security situation in Zimbabwe a national disaster so that the nation can unlock funds and support to get affordable food to the people of Zimbabwe,” said the group’s chairman, Busani Malinga while addressing journalists in Bulawayo Friday.

“The food security situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic, the adverse weather conditions such as Cyclone Idai and low rainfall, sanctions against Zimbabwe, mismanagement of our grain stocks among other factors,”

Eye on Food is a lobby group working to ensure that government and private sector actively participate towards United Nations Sustainable Goal number 2 which ensures zero hunger.

Malinga said in the wake of the food shortages, his organisation recently petitioned the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe and Ministry of Finance to support local farmers and work with them towards ensuring food security.

“We believe that with adequate financial support, our farmers can innovatively meet the demand for food in the country,” Malinga said.

“Our farmers need all the support they can get for them to produce enough to feed the nation.

“The issue of food is not just an issue of profit and business sense, but it is an issue about people’s welfare, happiness and health.”

Malinga said his organisation also intended to petition the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture.

“We will also petition the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture compelling them to ensure that the agricultural sector receives more deliberate support to boost food production and subsequently ensure that we are a food secure nation,” he said.

“We believe that the Parliamentary portfolio committee has focused on politics and politicking at the expense of food security in the country.

“In our petition, we urge the committee to go out, meet the farmers, hear their needs and provide oversight on government policy and policy implementation in the farming sector to ensure that our farmers can comfortably feed the nation.”

Malinga also expressed concern over nefarious activities going on in the grain industry.

“Eye on Food Security is deeply concerned by the activities going on in and around the grain industry.

“The food security situation is at a critical juncture where food and in particular grain should not be restricted to profits but should focus on feeding the people.

“Zimbabweans need affordable food, the people need affordable roller meal and bread. Now is not the time to be pointing fingers or throwing mud at each other.

“The grain industry needs all players to put shoulder to the wheel and get Zimbabwe’s food warehouses and silos full again,” added Malinga.

According to the World Food Programme, more than seven million people in Zimbabwe are facing food shortages after going through the worst drought the Southern region has seen in 35 years.

The figure is projected to increase as the food crisis deteriorates.

The food situation in the country has been worsened by the outbreak of Covid-19 as some restrictive measures cannot apply to communities concerned with finding food on the table for families.