POLITICS of the stomach is likely to dominate the run-up to the next elections after humanitarian agencies warned of acute food shortages for Zimbabwe’s vulnerable rural population as the country’s grain production has dwindled to less than half of domestic consumption.
The shortages have been compounded by a meagre harvest worsened by severe drought across many parts of the country, in addition to the broader problems of the coalition government’s failure to resuscitate the agricultural sector devastated by more than a decade of neglect following violent land grabs.
The Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) and humanitarian organisations in Zimbabwe used the commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day on August 19 to highlight the country’s deteriorating food security situation and warned it would inflict immense suffering on the majority of the population.
UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Zimbabwe, Marcelin Hepie, warned a second round of crop and livestock assessment indicated that both the “acreage planted and the national cereal production have dropped this year”. The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee had revealed more than 1,6 million people would require food aid next year — 60% more than in 2011.
CFU president Charles Taffs warned of a serious humanitarian crisis. Zimbabwe Farmers Union spokesperson Tinashe Kairiza conceded the country is facing difficult times as far as wheat and soya bean production is concerned.