Government is consistently monitoring the country’s food security situation with 10 percent of public expenditure having been set aside to fund drought mitigation efforts and avert the effects of El Nino, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri has said.
In a speech read on his behalf by the permanent secretary in his ministry, Mr Ringson Chitsiko, during the belated World Food Day commemorations at Valley Irrigation Scheme in Kezi, Matobo district in Matabeleland South on Thursday, Minister Shiri said the Government has since activated early warning systems to prevent hunger and starvation in the country in light of the looming El Niño.
“The Government is monitoring food and nutrition security indicators and we have established early warning systems to prevent a crisis. Various assessments are done periodically including crop and livestock assessment.
“ZimVac assessment, lean season assessment and nutrition survey all aimed at providing early warning information for planning and decision-making purposes,” he said.
The minister said Government has noted with concern that a significant proportion of the country’s population remains vulnerable to the challenges of economic marginalisation, hunger and malnutrition.
“My ministry recognises this and the Government still upholds its earlier commitment to allocate 10 percent of public expenditure to agriculture to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness. My ministry is engaging in various activities and initiatives to make sure that zero hunger is attainable by 2030 in line with the Government’s thrust of attaining a middle income economy by that year,” he said.
The minister said Government has put in place several policies that promote food and nutrition security, among them, the Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Agricultural Policy, which his ministry is finalising.
He said his ministry has embarked on drought mitigatory strategies in response to challenges posed by climate change.
“We have embarked on various strategies such as irrigation rehabilitation and development, water harvesting, promotion of climate smart agricultural technologies among other interventions. There are a lot of initiatives that the Government and its partners are doing in irrigation rehabilitation to reduce hunger and its effects on the populace,” he said.
“We are directly helping vulnerable communities to boost their income through initiatives like Productive Asset Creation and cash transfers. Other support takes the form of technical assistance, provision of agricultural and livestock inputs and services.”
Minister Shiri said the mandate of his ministry is to promote and sustain a viable agricultural sector through the provision of appropriate infrastructure, mechanisation, technical, administrative and advisory services to optimise productivity and ensure food security.
He said the Government has also embarked on a massive farmer training programme on crop and livestock production.
Minister Shiri urged farmers in regions characterised by low rainfall patterns to focus on small grains, which are largely drought-resistant
The minister commended farmers at Valley Irrigation Scheme for supporting Government efforts through growing sorghum and sugar beans.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and its partners improved the functional capacity of the irrigation scheme’s infrastructure and equipment.
Valley Irrigation Scheme, which has a total of 200 hectares of arable land and 400 beneficiaries, is one of the projects benefiting from the EU fund.
World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on October 16 in honour of the date of the founding of FAO in 1945.
This year’s celebrations were held under the theme “Our actions are our future. A zero hunger world by 2030 is possible”.