Home » Industry » Maize Import Permits Availed to Avert Hunger

Government has started issuing maize import licences to companies as part of efforts to avert food shortages following a dry spell that has dampened prospects of a good harvest in many parts of the country.

Although the Government is in the process of carrying out a crop assessment countrywide, it has become apparent that food shortages will start in the next few months, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

Responding to a question in the Senate yesterday, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Paddy Zhanda said some companies had already started importing maize.

He had been asked by Chief Chiduku on what Government is doing to avert hunger in light of the erratic rains received this cropping season.

“As a ministry, we saw it fit that companies that applied to import maize be given permits, so they are already importing maize as we speak,” he said.

“We are also assessing areas that could be in need of food aid because there are some areas that have not received good rains.

“Our teams are already in the provinces and we expect that by the end of this month we would be clear on what areas are in need and what kind of assistance they will need so that we can forward the information to the ministry of finance and assist them in early mobilisation of resources to import more grain.”

Prospects of a bumper harvest were affected by a combination of floods that affected a number of areas in December and January, resulting in some crops being washed away.

Some areas were affected by heavy leaching, while the prolonged dry spell has resulted in some crops wilting.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made on Tuesday said an Agritex team was on the ground carrying out a rapid assessment, which would bring out the real needs ward by ward.

He added that small grains in Manicaland, Mashonaland East, southern parts of Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland South have also been severely affected by the dry spell.

Dr Made said the dry spell had not only affected Zimbabwe, but most parts of the Southern African region.

Some of the areas last received rains at the end of January, while others last had them in early February.

Weather experts predicted a normal to above normal rainfall season during the 201415 season forecast, but said the rainfall distribution was not good for agriculture activity.

The Metereological Services Department had applied to Government for over $200 000 for cloud seeding during the dry spells, but up to now it has not received the money from Treasury.

Zimbabwe requires 1 384 000 tonnes of grain for human consumption and 350 000 tonnes for livestock and other uses and has to import if the harvest is below these requirements.

Source : The Herald