Hunger stalks Muzarabani

HARARE - At a time when farmers in most parts of the country are rubbing their hands with glee in anticipation of a bumper harvest, villagers in Muzarabani are seeking at least 15 tonnes of maize seed to plant.

This comes after crops in the low Zambezi basin have been written off due to a prolonged dry spell in the early farming season.

The dry plains area, which has seen both natural and man-made disasters including extreme weather temperatures, is not new to droughts but this season’s unpredictable high temperatures and late incessant rains have compounded the community’s poverty situation.

Muzarabani North legislator Alfred Mufunga said people in his constituency face serious food shortages, which if not urgently addressed, could lead to starvation as some people are already surviving on one meal a day.

“The rains came a bit late when most farmers’ plants had already wilted, and we are not expecting to harvest anything this season,” he said over the weekend during a tour of the marginalised area in Mashonaland Central.

“We used to cultivate cotton, which is ideal for environment, but now the majority of old people living in this area have resorted to traditional small grains that have also wilted under the scorching sun,” Mufunga said, adding that he has approached government for relief.

“Last week I was asking the provincial administrator to unveil 15 tonnes of early maturity maize seed to this area so that farmers can take advantage of the current rainfall and plant again, perhaps we can harvest something by the end of the season,” he said.

Muzarabani, which is about 300 kilometres from Harare and is close to the Mozambican border, falls under the natural farming region five that is characterised by high temperatures and low rainfall throughout the year hence indigenous inhabitants have little survival options save for feeding on wild fruits such as mauyu and masawu that can do well under the harsh climatic conditions.

In the early 1990s, communities in this area used to survive on farming cotton but the majority of them have since relinquished the white gold due to falling international prices on the market which have been exacerbated by stiff competition from cheap imports.

Ambuya Emilia Chirere who looks after six of her grandchildren said she hopes government and non-governmental organisations will soon descend on the area with food relief.

“People are in dire need of food assistance. I think government must speed up food relief programmes because families have no food at all,” she said.

Muzarabani Ward 8 Councillor Norman Chizeya said considering the low-lying area in the Zambezi basin’s high temperatures, which averages 39 and 40 Degree Celsius, it would be prudent for the area to be capacitated with irrigation equipment.

“We experienced a drought spell late last year resulting in most crops being a write off. And the few surviving crops such as millet are being wiped away by crickets.
As such we are appealing to the government to help us diversify into livestock production as this will strengthen our cash flows,” he added.

Comments (1)

Kudos to the MP. You have sounded the alarm in time. No one should die when most parts of the country are basking in glory. Please Mr. MP, appeal to the government to start Food for Work program.

Innocent Matandamavi - 14 March 2018

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.