The Zimbabwe government has so far received 4,000 tonnes out of the 150,000 tonnes that it is buying from Zambia as part of measures to address food shortages in this country, says Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made.
He told the National Assembly here Wednesday that the government was still putting in place the modalities to acquire the remainder of the maize, the staple food of Zimbabwe, which experienced drought in the last agricultural season resulting in poor output and a large number of people, estimated at over two million, requiring food assistance.
“The government is committed to importing 150,000 metric tons (of Maize) from Zambia,” Made said in response to a question by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Chief Whip Innocent Gonese on the amount of maize the government intended to import to address current food shortages.
Made said the private sector was also importing maize from South Africa to cover the deficit although he could not provide figures on imports to date.
He said it was critical that farmers be empowered to address food shortages in the future. “We must improve our capacity by making sure that farmers receive adequate inputs. We must also review the cost of inputs which is prohibitive,” he added.
Made said the government would also prioritise mechanisation which was necessary to address challenges which most farmers were facing.
He said the current liquidity challenges farmers were facing were a result of Western-imposed sanctions and made it necessary for the government to extend them support.
Farmers have already begun preparations for the 2013/14 agricultural season. While meteorologists have predicted that the country was likely to receive normal rainfall, concerns have already been expressed on the high cost of inputs such as seed and fertiliser.