Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has started distributing wheat to needy communities across the country in line with its commitment to ensure that no family dies of hunger.
The program targets the elderly, child-headed families and orphans for free food distribution, while the able-bodied will be recruited to carry out food-for-work projects in their localities .
The exercise was necessitated by the need to cushion citizens from hunger after some parts of the country received poor yields in the 2021/22 agricultural season due to drought-induced conditions.
The Department of Social Welfare has distributed 15,000 tons of maize this month and is expected to scale up the intervention to 30,000 tons going forward, according to official reports. The exercise will continue until next year’s harvest.
Although some parts of the country are food insecure due to poor rains, the Government is committed to cushing the public from hunger, said the Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima.
He said the Government’s interventions were guided by the recently released Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) Rural Livelihood Report, which showed that the Government is the biggest social network provider for citizens vulnerable.
“We have just started the food deficit mitigation program. This month, we had an allocation of 15,000 tons to go to areas that have been negatively affected due to erratic rainfall,” said the minister.
“We have targeted that on average, until the next harvest, we will distribute something like 30,000 tonnes per month.
“We are starting small, but we will increase the allocations as we reach the peak period of hunger, which will be from January to about March in 2023. This program has started.”
Prof Mavima said his ministry had also sent complementary teams to assess vulnerability levels in several districts and that the Government was confident that all vulnerable members of the public would have access to wheat.
“We do not expect to fail to give support to families in need of food aid. We have done a proper research and now we know the extent of hunger in the country,” he said.
“We have to give every family what they deserve in terms of food, using the data that has been provided to us by the various government departments,” said Professor Mavima.
From now until October/November, the minister said that the beneficiaries work for the food they receive, but when the agricultural season begins, they must focus on working in their farms so that they will harvest in the next season.
“That’s the only difference. We don’t give free food to the able-bodied. We ask them to work in schools, clinics, road rehabilitation and in different communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, the traditional leaders of the Matabeleland region have asked the Government to speed up the food distribution program as some areas are increasingly desperate.
The vice president of the National Council of Chiefs, Chief Mtshane Khumalo, said: “This time, there was no harvest in April due to the low rainfall recorded. This means that for the last few months the communities have been struggling with food. Therefore, it is important for the Government to start distributing grain since many people are food insecure,” said Chief Mtshane.
Chief Nkalakatha from Nkayi District in Matabeleland North said villagers under his jurisdiction did not record any significant harvest in the previous farming season.
“So the communities are becoming more and more food insecure. We hope that the Government can reach our communities as soon as possible, since people are not getting grain,” he said.
“I have 22 villages and two wards in my area and most of the people in the community are already food insecure,” said Chief Nkalakatha.
He said that his area is closer to the Grain Marketing Board and he was aware that most of the grain did not reach his community. – @nqotshili