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Japan avails US$5 million for drought relief

The Japanese Government has availed 460 million Japanese Yen (US$5,7 million) to the World Food Programme (WFP) to feed Zimbabweans facing food shortages due to drought.

By Our Staff

Farmer organisations estimated Zimbabwe’s maize deficit of 1,4 million tonnes following a poor 2012/13 growing season, which was characterised by low and delayed rainfalls in most parts of the country.

Zimbabwe’s annual consumption of maize meal, the main staple food, averages 2,2 million tonnes. However, organisations such as the Zimbabwe Commerical Farmers Union, estimate this year’s maize output at 800 000 tonnes from an initial projection of 1,2 million tonnes.
This has necessitated massive food imports to avert mass starvation.

Some embassies and non-governmental organisations therefore stepped in to help prevent hunger in the country. Japan’s food aid  programme through the WFP was launched in the Rushinga District, north east of Zimbabwe, one of the areas in the country that faces a food deficit.

“The food aid launch which took off in Rushinga will allow WFP to scale up operations and ensure that vulnerable families in drought-stricken areas continue to receive maize and peas in the difficult months before the harvest in April,” Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Yonezo Fukuda said at an official handover ceremony attended by WFP country director, Felix Bamezon.

Apart from intervening through the supply of grain, the Japanese embassy has also been supporting irrigation schemes and safe water projects throughout the country in order to promote agriculture and food security.

The projects, in which  more than a million dollars has been injected, will benefit more than 3000 households in areas such as Chipinge District in Manicaland.

Agricultural experts point out that in order for Zimbabwe to maintain food security, irrigation and water harvesting, instead of sole dependence on dry land cropping, must be stepped up. They point to climatological changes which are adversely affecting Zimbabwe’s rainfall patterns.

Given government’s constraints in providing agricultural extension services, the embassy, in conjunction with organisations such as Africa 2000 and the Mercy Corps, are providing training to improve cultivation skills and resource management. It is hoped that by helping the rural families improve their farming methods and having their agricultural capacity enhanced, Zimbabwe will in the medium to long-term be food-secure.

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