Harare - Zimbabwe ‘s Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister, Vangelis Haritatos is confident the country is still in a safer position in terms of food security, despite the El Nino induced drought that affected almost nine countries across the SADC region, including Zimbabwe.
Haritatos emphasized that there was no immediate threat of hunger in Zimbabwe as of yet, as the country still has enough grain in the reserves that can feed the nation in the next coming months.
In an interview with The Southern Times, the deputy minister said although Zimbabwe was affected by drought, there was no reason for people to panic as of yet, since the country has nearly half a million tonnes of maize in stock that can feed the people for a couple of months.
“For now, our country is still in a very safe position. We still have grains in our reserves and we are confident that it can sustain our people, until we come up with a supply plan if the need arises.
“It is a bit tricky to start talking about importing now, because now is the harvest season and our famers are still bringing in their harvest to the Grain Marketing Board.
“So for now we want to wait and see how much grain the farmers will bring to add on what we have in the reserves, then see if there is need for us to import any grains,” he said.
However, Haritatos added that in case of a deficit, Zimbabwe will look for assistance from fellow SADC nations, as well as South America.
“Yes, we cannot deny the fact that there is a deficit and most of parts of the country were affected by drought and the crops did not do well.
“In fact, most countries within the SADC region were affected and given the situation that there is need for us to import any maize we will have to look at our fellow SADC countries which were not affected, and will also look up to countries like South America.
“The Government of Zimbabwe will not allow its people to starve, therefore there is no need for our people to panic. We do have a couple of strategies in case there is a deficit, but for now let us focus on knowing how much harvest we do have for this season and the rest will follow,” he said.
Most countries in the SADC region were affected by El Nino, a temporary weather phenomenon that causes shifting weather patterns across the globe.
El Nino in the SADC region resulted in erratic rains that led to bad harvests and mass deaths of livestock.
According to the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF), the region recorded mostly below normal rainfall throughout the season.
“The bulk of Southern African Development Community (SADC) received normal to below-normal rainfall for most of the period October to December (OND) 2018 and above normal rainfall over the northern half of the United Republic of Tanzania.
“In parts like northern Angola, central most Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), south-western Tanzania, northern Malawi, and the islands states of Comoros and Mauritius, eastern-most Madagascar received normal to above-normal rainfall throughout the 2018/19 rainy season,” SARCOF said.
“For central Mozambique, southern Malawi, northern half of Zimbabwe, most of Zambia, southernmost DRC, south-eastern half of Angola, bulk of Namibia, western half of Botswana, most of central and western parts of South Africa and western parts of Lesotho had normal to below-normal rainfall.
In extreme south-western Zambia, north-eastern Namibia, south-easternmost Angola, south-western half of Zimbabwe, eastern half of Botswana, most of northern South Africa, eastern Lesotho, Swaziland and southern Mozambique, SARCOF stated that there was normal to below-normal rainfall.
"South-westernmost Angola and western coastal areas of Namibia and South Africa, western Madagascar, eastern Madagascar, southern Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros were also affected," it said.