By Nangayi Guyson – Harare – Zimbabwe which has been facing serious economic problems of inflation which was rated as the second worst inflation spike in history, behind the hyper inflationary crisis of Hungary in 1946, is now facing Humanitarian crisis with at least six of 10 provinces facing severe food shortages, and the government has ordered the country’s grain marketing board (GMB) to send grain to the affected areas, a state daily said on Monday.
“The GMB is holding on to 270 000 metric tons and have to start helping our people,” Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told The Herald newspaper. More than two million people in Zimbabwe, or close to one-fifth of the southern African country’s population, are in need of food aid, the Red Cross said.
A government crop assessment carried out in January found that the country had more than two million hectares of maize planted, up from 1.8 million last year, and was expecting to harvest 1.7 million tonnes.
The United Nations has appealed for $415m to feed 1.7 million people this year until the harvest starts in May. This year Zimbabwe received normal rains at the beginning of the year, but some crops have been written off following a dry spell between February and March.
Since 2000, the southern African nation has faced successive years of food shortages that coincided with controversial land reforms launched by long-time President Robert Mugabe to seize nearly 4 000 white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
In December 2009 the Red Cross appealed for 38.4 million Swiss francs ($36.8 million Cdn) in funds to continue an emergency food operation begun in 2008 to support more than 200,000 particularly vulnerable people in the region.
Critics of long time ruler President Robert Mugabe have blamed the food shortages on measures he introduced in 2000, when thousands of white-owned farms were handed over to landless blacks, seizures Mugabe argued were necessary to resettle blacks kicked off their land during British colonization. Although the land reform programme has been judged to be successful there is still speculation that it has been the cause of the downfall of the economy.
Critics said the policy left much of the best farmland unused, as resettled farmers did not have the proper equipment, supplies and seed to keep production at previous levels.
Mugabe has blamed his country’s plight on sanctions placed against his government, though Western countries say those sanctions target only Mugabe and his top aides.