Saturday, March 19, 2016

PRESIDENT REASSURES NATION . . .No One Will Be Denied Food in Zimbabwe
March 19, 2016

President Mugabe enjoys a lighter moment while addressing Zanu-PF supporters at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura yesterday. — (Picture by Believe Nyakudjara)

Felex Share in Bindura
Zimbabwe Herald

There will be no discrimination in the distribution of food imported by Government to feed people and those caught influencing food distribution on partisan lines will be dealt with in terms of the law, President Mugabe has said. He assured the nation that no one would die of hunger in this country. Speaking as he officially opened the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University here yesterday, President Mugabe said the El Nino-induced drought was affecting every Zimbabwean and no one should be left out when it comes to food aid.

“We got the same feeling, needs and demands and so even as we struggle against each other politically, the hunger that we feel within our own party is the same hunger being felt in the MDC,” President Mugabe said.

“We are Zimbabweans whether we are working in mines, farms or companies. We can never rub off the fact of our being Zimbabwean, the fact of being human beings. That is what Christianity teaches us.

“Whether we find ourselves in the party or any association, we are all the same, bound together as one family of Zimbabweans.” He added: “As food is being distributed, it is being distributed to people as a whole to save them. We might differ on policies but when we talk of food, all of us should be served. It does not matter which church or party one belongs to.”

Government was distributing grain to all the provinces but reports were that some officials were distributing the food on a partisan basis. About four million people are in need of food aid and Government has about 91 000 tonnes, enough to cover the next three months.

Government is also working on plans to import more grain and has also given licences to private players to assist. President Mugabe underscored his remarks on fairness in food distribution while addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters who had gathered at Chipadze Stadium for a rally.

“The food is there and what is slowing distribution is the challenge we are facing in transportation,” he said. “People tend to compete for what would have come, but I am glad we haven’t heard of any deaths and we don’t want anyone to die. I have been told that food distribution is being done properly, nicely and there are places that need more and we will ensure that is done.

“If you have surplus and know that there are other areas that need food, please assist each other and Government will be in the process of bringing more.”

To alleviate the transport problems, the District Development Fund has adopted a “hit and run” concept and has 10 trucks going around the country moving food from Grain Marketing Board depots to the people.

Government has also re-introduced its public works programmes, popularly known as food-for-work to ensure those who are not labour constrained work for the grain.

He said Government officials would move around the country assessing how people are using the agricultural equipment secured from Brazil. The equipment, President Mugabe said, was the panacea to the drought challenges being experienced as people can use it to irrigate their crops throughout the year.

Zimbabwe has a lot of water bodies that are not being utilised.


A media report suggests that the number of people in need of aid has risen to four million.

Eyewitness News

ZIMBABWE - Food shortages are worsening in Zimbabwe, where state media is reporting that the number of people needing emergency food aid has now risen from three million to four million.

Zimbabwe is left with just three months of grain supplies as the drought induced by El Nino takes its toll.

Social welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira says the Zimbabwe government is speeding up imports of maize to make sure that no one starves.

She told the state-run Herald newspaper that around four million people are now in need of food aid.

In a tweet by the opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) David Coltart says this year’s food crisis has been worsened by the government’s failure to mobilise donors at the end of 2015.

The United Nations Children's Agency (Unicef) says Zimbabwe is facing its worst malnutrition rates in 15 years.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

GMO seed varieties: Food security or enviromental threat?

March 16, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Nicholas Pythagoras Ndlovu
Zimbabwe Chronicle

The recent food crisis in Zimbabwe undermines our nation’s economic development priorities. While the crisis can be easily attributed to the climate change scenario of our times, it still remains that the issue facing Zimbabwe demands urgent attention and a solution.

Of importance right now is what steps need to be taken for the nation to optimise its agricultural productivity under the changing climate to achieve both food security and create incomes and jobs.

It should be considered that an optimised agriculture sector has the capacity of combating poverty and potential to create jobs.

An optimised agriculture sector can reduce poverty two to four times faster than any other sector. A 10 percent increase in yields leads to a seven percent reduction in poverty, and no other sector can achieve this.

The dire food situation in the country has seen the issue of GMO seed varieties rearing its ugly head in story headlines. There is widespread belief that different varieties of drought tolerant genetically modified grains would address the food crisis now and in the future.

In this nation, GMO seeds remain banned as a precaution to avoid unwarranted germination of plant species which will have impacts on biodiversity and the entire ecosystem.

The environmental impacts of introduced GMOs have been shown to affect the population and relationship of species in the receiving area. They impact on predation and competition which are vital for a healthy ecosystem.

Also worth considering are the GMOs effect on biogeochemistry, especially through impacts on soil micro-organism populations that regulate the flow of important elements for our agriculture.

These elements include nitrogen and phosphorus. Another impact of note is that of the transfer of inserted genetic material to other domesticated or native populations through a process known as gene flow, which may involve cross pollination, mixed mating, dispersal or microbial transfer. It will be effectively difficult to get pure breeds.

Commercial farmers still maintain that GMO seed varieties have better yields, are of better quality and are more commercially attractive.

They also argue that farmers elsewhere in the world who use GMO varieties are engaged in much more profitable agriculture.

This has seen consumers and farmers effectively suffering as they pay higher prices for food imports     (of which an estimated 70 percent is GMO) while the cost of production of non-GMO varieties are seemingly escalating at a time when the country is faced with a serious climate catastrophe.

It is, however, critical to understand that enhancing agricultural productivity takes more than just improved seed varieties, capable of resisting droughts or insects, an area in which GMOs mostly focuses on.

It requires adequate water, pollinators as well as good soils having appropriately metered minerals, organic matter, and appropriate structure. It will need that soil erosion is prevented and our environment is protected.

All these are enablers actually more important than improved seeds. However, the GMO proponents mostly focus on genetically enhanced seed varieties that can better resist droughts or insects and so on, or genetically enhanced livestock, among others.

The issue is also on how Zimbabwe can achieve this optimisation of agro-productivity, by leveraging on its internal strengths, approaches that will be most accessible and cost effective and proven to be effective.

Healthy, well-functioning ecosystems enhance natural resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change and reduce the vulnerability of people.

As such, ecosystem-based management practices offer a valuable yet under-utilised approach for climate change adaptation, complementing traditional actions such as infrastructure development.

Ecosystem-based management is an environmental management approach that recognises the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including humans, rather than considering single issues, species, or ecosystem services in isolation.

The approach, known as “Ecosystem-based Adaptation” (EBA), uses biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people and communities adapt to the negative effects of climate change at local, national, regional and global levels.

In addition to protection from climate change impacts, EBA also provides many other benefits to communities, for example, through the maintenance and enhancement of ecosystem services crucial for livelihoods and human well-being, such as clean water and food.

Appropriately designed ecosystem management initiatives can also contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing emissions from ecosystem loss and degradation, and enhancing carbon sequestration.

The EBA approaches are more compatible to traditional approaches already under use by most farmers in Africa; hence they are easily adaptable to already existing approaches used by 80 percent small holder farmers on the continent.

This complementary relationship is what Zimbabwe should build on.

In addition, studies indicate that EBA approaches to food production can potentially enhance yields by up to 128 percent of nutritious food at lower financial and environmental cost and this simultaneously ensures food secured healthy people and healthy environments.

EBA approaches also ensure adaptation to climate change. They also conserve and enhance capacity of the very ecosystems that underpin food productivity, hence ensuring the ecosystem goods and services earlier mentioned (that is, water, insect pollinators, quality soils etc.) remain intact to continue supporting crop production.

Linking EBA production approaches to commercial value chains has also been proven to enhance incomes and create jobs along the agro-value chains towards combating poverty and joblessness in Africa.

The GMO sector is welcome research and scientists should continue to improve on it. Zimbabwe together with the rest of the world should also leverage on its strengths. It is important to ensure that Zimbabwe and Africa use what is most accessible and proven to work in optimising the agriculture sector to enhance the food and livelihood security of its people while ensuring the environment that is the foundation of agro-production remains intact to combat climate change.

About the author: Nicholas Pythagoras Ndlovu is a Technical Expert with the Zimbabwe Climate Change Organisation (ZiCCO). Contact: email, mobile :+263 771 373 994 , twitter : @pydlovu

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