Gwembe UPND member of parliament Attractor Chisangano says she expects the hunger crisis in the country, and Southern Province in particular, to remain the same even next year because government has not done enough to address the situation.
And Chisangano says the continued ban on animal movement across the country might contribute to a poor harvest next year because farmers do not have alternative sources of income to pay for inputs.
Updating News Diggers on the hunger situation in her constituency and how the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) had assisted in mitigating the crisis, Chisango said the relief food being distributed by DMMU was insignificant, explaining that in some cases, five families were being given a 12.5 Kg bag of mealie meal to share.
“The hunger situation is still the same, coupled with lack of water. We’ve been crying to the government so that they increase the food allocation that they give us. The food relief that they give is too little. In Gwembe, there are more than 15,000 households that are affected, but the food allocation that they normally bring, the highest so far that we’ve received was 9,650 [tonnes] thereabout of 12.5 Kg bags of mealie meal, which is so little. We have places where they start the distributions, four or five households they are sharing a 12.5 Kg bags of mealie meal and people end up receiving that mealie meal in cups. But people are told the mealie meal should last for months. But that mealie meal in a cup, they would just use it maybe to cook porridge and it ends there. Yet the government is saying they’ve distributed relief food, no! The food is not adequate, what they are giving is far less than the number of people that are affected by the hunger,” Chisangano said.
“Moreover, when you are talking about good nutrition, it’s about the frequency of eating. How many times is one eating in a day? Then the quantity of food, how much food is that person eating in a day and also the quality. But this government is just giving little mealie meal. But for people to be healthy, government should also distribute other food especially for the children, they need a mixture of nutrients in order for them to grow. So when government is giving this little mealie-meal, they are exposing the children to malnutrition. So really, the situation here is still the same because the food given to the people hasn’t increased.”
Chisangano also lamented that the challenges in distribution of inputs would affect the next harvest.
“I can see that even agriculture next year will be affected because right now, the people are still struggling to pay for the e-voucher and most of our agro-dealers also, they are saying they were not paid by the government. Then there is a failure in the system where a farmer can pay but the name not reflecting, then others were not even given their farming inputs for 2015 -2016 farming season, even for 2017/18, farmers haven’t received. So really it’s going to be a rough process. I am worried because I can see farmers not getting the inputs on time, that I can assure you. In fact, we are already late because we were told it would start raining in October. But farmers haven’t yet gotten their inputs, meaning they will get their inputs maybe in November or December just like last year when people were getting their Compound D [fertilizer] in February. So for me I can even see a similar pattern, we are already late,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chisangano expressed concern that the ban on animal movement might affect cause some farmers to fail to access inputs due to lack of funds.
“People have no source of income where they can be able to buy there own food, especially mealie meal which is again very expensive. As you know in Gwembe most of the people trade cattle but because of the ban on animal movement, people can no longer go town to sell off their animals. So the source of income is very limited for these people, worse now when they are supposed to pay for e-voucher. Where do they get the money because there are competing needs, is it buying mealie meal or paying for e-voucher?” asked Chisangano.
Chisangano called on the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that it cleared what it owed to the suppliers so that there would be no complications in the 2019/2020 farming season.