Zimbabwe’s still not producing enough food, according to the World Food Programme, and a million people will need food aid in the near future. But the country is producing a lot more food than it used to as its battered agricultural sector recovers. By SIMON ALLISON.
The headline of the World Food Programme warning about Zimbabwe is bad, but the substance of the story is actually quite encouraging for the country. Yes, the fact remains Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, now can’t feed itself. The WFP estimates there are a million people needing food assistance in the near future and that 12% of the rural population won’t be able to feed themselves in the pre-harvest season until March 2012. Even worse is that while the WFP has begun the feeding process, it’s facing a funding shortfall of $42 million.
Zimbabwe is still recovering from the farm invasions encouraged by President Robert Mugabe to consolidate his power in 2005, but which destroyed its agricultural sector. The WFP reports that from a low of 500,000 tons in 2007-2008, production of the staple crop, maize, rose to 1.45 million tons in 2010-2011. This is nearly a threefold increase, a success which must be chalked down to the influence of the unity government introduced after the flawed elections of 2008.
But 1.45 million tons is still well short of the target of 2 million tons, Zimbabwe needs to feed itself. But with a good rainy season forecast and the government committed to putting money into agriculture, a self-sufficient Zimbabwe might not be too far off. DM
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