HARARE - Information this week that over four million people — over a third of the country’s population — are in need of food aid flies in the face of those claiming the chaotic and often violent land reform exercise was a success.
Never in the history of Zimbabwe has such a large number of people been staring starvation in the face, with the majority of people in Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South and Mashonaland West provinces spending days without food.
Factors that have caused the rising level of food insecurity include inconsistent rainfall, increasing costs of agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and seed, as well as the rising costs of food such as grains due to last year’s poor maize harvest.
Food prices are also expected to rise even more as the amount of commodities decreases. Moreover, with an estimated unemployment rate of over 80 percent in Zimbabwe, many people cannot cope with rising food prices.
It should come as an embarrassment for President Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants to see the electorate they promised 2,2 million jobs, empowerment and food security queuing for food donated by non-governmental organisations, individuals and well-wishers.
While we have fundraisers, donors, who give us some money, canes of food, there should be ways which effectively solve hunger in our country in a way that is much more sustainable.
And this can only be done through proper planning in the agriculture sector and the unveiling of farming inputs on time in a fairly transparent manner to the small-scale farmers.
For Zimbabwe to extricate itself from being a perennial beggar, hard questions must be asked and solutions have to be found through the implementation of agriculture development strategies, which lie at the heart of poverty reduction and increased food security of most developing nations.
The government should not continue expropriating land from white commercial farmers and dishing it out to cronies who have no track record in agriculture. On the contrary, there is need for government to support small farmers who toil day in, day out to put food on the table and in markets.
With this mindset, we will be able to have more food in the country. Small farmers in the country must all get civic education on how important it is to secure food for future use.
They should be taught better ways and methods of planting, better selection of seed and application of fertilisers which could spark a green crop.
Without proper policy implementation coupled with a failed leadership that specialises in plundering the country’s resources, it would be a long time before Zimbabwe’s breadbasket status is restored.