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Key interventions needed for dire food situation in Matabeleland: Mwonzora

Key interventions are needed for the already dire food security situation in Matabeleland where families are experiencing ‘grinding’ poverty worsened by the adverse economic impacts seen in Zimbabwe, MDC-T president Douglas Mwonzora has said.

Mwonzora, who is on a tour assessing food security across the country, said the economic situation in Zimbabwe was far from pleasing and claimed few families are able to afford two meals a day.

“We started our tour with Matabeleland. On Monday we were in Lupane and the food security in Matabeleland is dire. You may want to know the grain produced in Binga in the last season, as measured by what was sent to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was four to six tonnes only for the entire Binga district,” he said at a press conference held at the Bulawayo Media Centre on Tuesday.

In Matabeleland South, the situation was almost similar, with Mwonzora claiming Beitbridge only sent about one tonne of maize to the GMB, highlighting the present food insecurity situation as “serious.”

“The situation in Matabeleland North and South is very dire indeed. A lot of interventions need to be done,” said the MDC-T leader.

Citing statistics from the District Development Coordinating (DDC) Committees, Mwonzora said there are about 18 700 families in Kezi, Matabeleland South, who are food insecure.

The opposition leader said it is “frightening” that a whole district can produce four tonnes of maize.

“By production, I mean that which they feel comfortable sending to GMB and its only four tonnes. One of the MPs, a farmer, said he produced more than the entire district in one hectare because, with maize, you can produce 10 tonnes in a hectare. This means the yield was extremely low and that speaks to serious food insecurity in Matabeleland provinces,” Mwonzora said.

According to the latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) 2022 Rural livelihoods Assessment Report, 30 percent of Zimbabweans will grow more food insecure towards the end of the year, as hunger continues pestering the most vulnerable communities.

“Matabeleland North will be 49 percent food insecure followed by Masvingo with 31 percent, Matabeleland South 30 percent, Mashonaland West and Manicaland both have 28 percent households projected to be food insecure, Midlands 27 percent while Mashonaland Central is 24 percent,” read the report.

Meanwhile, the MDC-T leader said the party would bank on the agriculture sector to address food security

“Two, we will look at employment within agriculture and three, look at agricultural efficiency. The same piece of land must produce more than it currently does. Lastly, we want to deal with infrastructure in agriculture, make sure people have adequate access to infrastructure,” he said.

“In the context of Matabeleland of course we have to put more attention to the provision of water.”

After visiting an irrigation scheme in Maphisa, Mwonzora described it as “very impressive” but was let down by the type of technology used.

“The so-called contract farmers, who are black people that have been given land but have a special permit to operate within the agricultural scheme use that irrigation but the infrastructure is far from impressive,” he said.

“Yes, water is coming from the dam but the methods can be revolutionised, so we want to bring a better infrastructure in agriculture.”

However, the MDC-T leader was happy about efforts to bring food from other regions with a surplus.

He cited how in Kezi on Tuesday, they witnessed a lorry offloading maize from Mashonaland where there was a better harvest.

“We were told that maize is going to come from Chinhoyi, Banket and is going to be delivered to GMB depots in affected areas which are basically Masvingo and Matabeleland,” Mwonzora said.

Mwonzora also lamented how Zimbabwe was facing “massive unemployment, economic stagnation as well as inequality.”

“There is unequal access to resources as some get access, some do not. There is poor governance culture, abuse of power by authorities and we have seen our people suffering because of unequal access to health, especially maternity health,” he said.

“On a global scale, Zimbabwe has remained internationally isolated and we have a poor human rights record.”

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