By Frank Kamuntu
The Republic of Zimbabwe formerly Rhodesia, has continuously secured maize from Uganda, a development that will go a long way in reducing meal shortages that have been exacerbated by recurrent droughts over the last three years.
President Mnangagwa met his Ugandan counterpart President Yoweri Museveni during the 33rd Ordinary Summit of the African Union that ended in Ethiopia last week, where Museveni agreed to supply Zimbabwe with maize.
A high-powered delegation led by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri, was on Thursday dispatched by Mnangagwa to Uganda to thrash out the modalities of importing the grain into the country.
President Mnangagwa revealed this on Friday at State House in Bulawayo, when he met civil society organisations from the Matabeleland region.
“Fortunately, three or four days ago when we were in Addis Ababa I was sitting with other Heads of States and President Museveni of Uganda said to me ‘President Mnangagwa, I understand you need maize in Zimbabwe, I have plenty of it, come and collect’. So, I stood up from where I was sitting and went to him and he told me he had surplus maize. This week I sent Minister Shiri to arrange the procurement of grain from Uganda,” he said.
Zimbabwe is also importing maize from Tanzania, South Africa and South America. President Mnangagwa said the effects of drought in the past two seasons were not felt as the country had surplus in its reserves.
“This is the third year in drought, the effects of this drought affect us directly. When we have a drought, food security in the country is threatened because we have not produced enough to feed ourselves. Fortunately for the past two seasons we accumulated huge reserves which accumulated at the time I personally introduced Command Agriculture.
“We had huge surpluses, so there was not much feeling countrywide about the first drought we went through, we used those reserves. But those reserves with this current drought have been exhausted and this is why we are now diverting all funds which had been targeted for capital projects to procure grain to feed the people. This then affects the implementation of developmental projects in the country because we need people to survive,” noted President Mnangagwa.
“Erratic rainfall was not just affecting agriculture but power generation as well,” President Mnangagwa added.