President of the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union, Abdul Nyathi, has urged the government to quickly revise its 2024 national budget to ensure that more funds are channeled toward buying food.

An El Nino-induced drought has wreaked havoc in the country and other parts of southern Africa, significantly affecting crop yields in Zimbabwe.

“The government should now revisit the budget and redirect it to food procurement and scout where we can get the food. That should be done as soon as possible because prices will increase internationally as soon as the sellers have concluded that we don’t have anything to eat,” he told Xinhua in an interview.

The country received relatively good rains at the beginning of January following a dry spell late in 2023, prompting many farmers whose early-planted crops had died from moisture stress to replant. However, the farmers lost out again after the rains stopped toward the end of January, resulting in the second batch of crops wilting again.

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Nyathi said even farmers who had planted other crops like groundnuts and roundnuts would not get good yields because of poor rains.

He added that although the quality of livestock was still generally good, there was a danger that a prolonged drought would result in the depletion of pastures and cause deaths.

“The state of livestock is still good, but if rains don’t come by April or May, the situation will deteriorate. We are thinking about destocking, and we are also thinking about supplementary feeding, which also comes from government coffers,” he said.

According to the United Nations World Food Program, about 2.7 million Zimbabweans will need food during the lean season between October 2023 and March 2024.

However, many more would need food assistance as the year progressed following a disastrous agricultural season.

Village head Robson Zindonda from Marondera District, Mashonaland East Province, told Xinhua on Monday that welfare officers had already started taking details of vulnerable people, especially the elderly and widows, so that they would be the first ones to be assisted with food handouts.

“The youths and other able-bodied people will come last,” he said.

Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities Daniel Garwe told supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party in Marondera West Constituency that the government would ensure that no one starved. — Xinhua

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