Zimbabwe Faces Massive Hunger Again in 2010
Zimbabwe is experiencing acute fertiliser shortages and it is too late to do anything about it now, meaning that next year's harvest is already in jeopardy. Agriculture remains the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy and a key anchor for any prospects of recovery. While the main parties fight over positions and power, they have neglected the actual governing of the country and the formulating of policies and strategies that could easily have averted this crisis
Harare, Zimbabwe, 04 November 2009
A colleague who has detailed information on the state of preparedness in the Agricultural sector in Zimbabwe revealed yesterday that Zimbabwe is set to suffer massive food shortages next year as a result of a disastrous agricultural season.
Although the country has enough seed (especially seed for the country's staple food, maize), there is a massive shortage of fertiliser and it is too late for anything to be done about it.
While the Inclusive Government of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe has been spending tens of millions of dollars on foreign travel, fertiliser companies in Zimbabwe have remained in the doldrums, with no one to help them boost production at all.
One of the companies in the industry, Sable Chemicals, says it needs about US$1 million a month just to pay for electricity. This is quite apart from the chemicals and raw materials needed to manufacture fertiliser.
The US$11 million spent by the government on foreign travel in the first six months of this year would have covered a year of electricity bills for the company, and it would have been able to pay that back to government, with interest, if it had been able to manufacture.
But, of course, there is also the continuing problem of electricity cuts, which would have meant that the company would not have been able to work at full capacity anyway.
The European Union has now released money for farmers to buy fertiliser in the country, but this is too little too late. There simply is no fertiliser in the country and the logistics involved in importing the fertiliser will mean that it will be not be delivered here on time, even if there was enough money to pay for it.
One then asks: What has Morgan Tsvangirai been doing since he was sworn in as Prime Minister, with responsibility for policy formulation and implementation? What has Mugabe been doing since he was sworn in as president? What have the Minister and Deputy Minister in charge of agriculture been doing if they could not see this time bomb.
Our communal farmers, who have traditionally produced the bulk of maize consumed in Zimbabwe, (about 60%), are the hardest hit and they will probably only harvest enough for themselves, with the majority being unable to swing even that, considering that they still till substandard land (the prime farming land has all been given to politicians and speculators)
This was a golden opportunity for the MDC-T and Morgan Tsvangirai to show that they could change the direction of policy implementation in this country and at least stabilise agriculture. They have failed this test and next harvest season will prove to the people that there is no difference between Mugabe/ZANU PF and Morgan Tsvangirai/MDC.
Both are too preoccupied with power, with spreading patronage in their respective spheres of influence and ensuring that they maintain a tight grip on their parties.
The people of Zimbabwe are left simply to swing in the wind.