Act on impending food shortages

HARARE - South Africa-based NKC African Economics (NKC) this week warned the Zimbabwean government over the impending food shortages emanating from the El Nino-induced drought and the recently gazetted import restrictions.

What is scary about this situation is that the country has been battling with intermittent food shortages since 2000 due to underproduction in the agricultural sector caused by the chaotic land reform exercise.

However, despite these glaring challenges, the Zanu PF-led government has remained clueless in resolving this decade-long crisis.

As such, we are deeply concerned by the casual and rather lackadaisical attitude of President Robert Mugabe’s government in handling the impending severe food shortage — with more than 5,5 million people already in need of aid.

The nonagenarian leader and his Zanu PF regime should also take prompt measures to rectify the far-reaching deficiencies in its much-talked about land reform programme.

All those people who are not productively utilising the land that was allocated to them should have that land taken away from them and have it re-distributed to those who will be able to use the land productively.

Because of the ravages brought about by climate change, our farmers should deliberately move away from rain-fed agriculture and focus more on irrigation technology.

There are more than 11 000 dams in Zimbabwe and thus, we shouldn’t have any excuse for failing to grow enough food to feed our rather small population of only 13 million people.

Already, weather experts have predicted that the entire southern African region is going to experience below normal rainfall for the next three or four farming seasons. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the Zanu PF government to channel more resources to enhance the country’s irrigation facilities.

In addition, the whole agricultural portfolio should be pulled out of politics and be based only on economic value.

We should drop this black and white issue in agriculture. It has gone on too long and if the country is to go forward we must get busy and produce. The only way we can do this is if we all pull in one direction.

We don’t have to be in this situation of food insecurity. We have a comparative advantage when compared to our neighbours. We have the best climate, the best soil and the best hydrological factors.

It is really a shame that only less than two decades ago, Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa — capable of feeding no less than 250 million people. Thanks to the Zanu PF–induced violent and chaotic land reform programme.

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