Hunger soars in Zimbabwe

2012-07-28 07:36

Harare – Famine has reared its head in Zimbabwe again, as the number of people depending on aid to avoid starvation soared by 60% from last year to 1.6 million, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The agency said that one in five of the country’s rural people were in need of famine relief.

Grain production in the last year was 1 million tonnes, the worst since 2009, which at 800 000 tons was the worst year on record.

Zimbabwe had a reputation as “Africa’s breadbasket” until 2000, when President Robert Mugabe launched his violent seizures of white-owned farms, forcing 1 500 white farmers off their land and displacing a million farm workers and their families.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have said that year marked the beginning of the collapse of one of Africa’s most successful economies.

The latest figures were released after a lengthy study by UN agencies, the Zimbabwe government and non-governmental organisations involved in agriculture.

Already, the report said, rural residents of the country were feeling the effects of the food shortages, a pattern marked by empty domestic granaries and farmers selling their cattle to raise money to buy food.

The report blamed erratic rainfall, low supplies of seed and fertiliser, and bad farming practices.

At the height of the last rainy season, farmers unions slammed a supply arrangement set-up by government officials.

Political figures in Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party snapped up cheap fertiliser and seed, and sold large quantities of it at inflated prices while peasant farmers waited helplessly.

During the current winter wheat season, promises of cheap supplies from the government also came to nothing, resulting in the lowest wheat crop forecast yet of 5 000 tons.

The WFP said it would rely on “regionally procured cereals” to make up the country’s current shortfall.

Commentators have pointed out that the biggest regional producer is Zambia, where scores of white farmers moved and became large-scale producers again after being driven off their land in Zimbabwe in the last decade.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.