Govt admits failure to import maize

Augustine Mukaro

GOVERNMENT has admitted it has no capacity to import maize to avert mass starvation in the country this year, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.



erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Zimbabwe has a grain deficit of 711 835 tonnes which should be met through imports. Unlike last year when government imported 838 000 tonnes using its own resources, this year it will largely depend on donor support to cover the food deficit.


According to the government’s formal appeal document in the hands of this paper, the country will harvest nearly 900 000 tonnes against a requirement of 1,9 million tonnes.


A total US$142 million would be required to finance the imports. The appeal says the deficit could however be reduced to 600 000 tonnes because of the World Food Programme’s 120 000 tonnes of food assistance which is on its way. The country has 284 000 tonnes in stock.


“The 600000 tonnes of possible deficit is what government is appealing for as assistance from the donor community to procure, given the tight foreign currency situation in the country,” reads part of the appeal signed by Finance minister Herbert Murerwa.


“Whatever the government is able to procure is to ensure that there is some reserve and that the country does not feed from hand to mouth.”


The formal appeal was handed over to the UNDP resident representative Victor Angelo on Tuesday and was presented to potential donors yesterday.


Government is also appealing for drugs, vaccines and gases to prevent a total collapse of the health delivery system.


“The shortage of foreign currency has limited the country’s ability to ensure availability of essential drugs, so because of the linkage between food security and health, government is appealing for non-food items in the form of drugs and vaccines and gases,” the appeal read.


The appeal said a recent survey by the World Health Organisation indicated that the country urgently needed a supply of chloroquine and sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (S/P).


“The needs assessment established that at least five million tablets of chloroquine and 1,5 million tablets of S/P are urgently required for an estimated 509 000 malaria cases,” the appeal read.


The appeal said in light of the HIV/Aids pandemic where more than 70% of hospital admissions are Aids-related conditions, drugs such as painkillers and anti-microbial drugs had become a priority.


“It is estimated that the drug requirements, excluding anti-retrovirals, for this year will be US$25 million. The country does not have adequate foreign currency to purchase these drugs,” the appeal noted.


Funding of up to US$3 million is required for the procurement of anti-retroviral drugs intended to reach at least 10 000 patients this year.

Government also requires a total of 19 442 kg of gas for the sterilisation of equipment at 753 clinics throughout the country every year.

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