Zimbabwe’s cabinet Minister, Perrance Shiri, said on Wednesday that the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) went down to below 100,000 tons of the staple maize from the mandatory 500, 000 tons following a drought in 2019.
According to the State News Agency, New Ziana, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Perrance Shiri, said the SGR was depleting.
“As things stand, we have less than 100, 000 metric tons of grains in SGR and imports, especially of food are ballooning.
A strategic grain reserve is a government stockpile of maize grain for the purpose of meeting future domestic or international needs and also helps during food emergencies.
Zimbabwe consumes about 1.8 million tons of grain annually but produced less than 800,000 tons last season due to the impact of drought and Cyclone Idai.
Shiri said the agriculture sector was facing challenges including high input costs, crop diseases, low mechanization and low levels of irrigation.
He noted that the country had the potential to irrigate up to 2 million hectares but currently only 170, 000 hectares were under functional irrigation.
He, however, said that Zimbabwean Government was now targeting to develop 200 hectares of irrigation schemes in every district per year.
“Climate change cuts across all sectors including agriculture. As a ministry, we need to build the capacity of our farmers to be resilient to climate change.
“shocks and stresses such as drought, floods, crop and livestock diseases, among others.
“Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector has the potential to contribute between 16 to 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 40 percent of exports and feed the country.
`While providing a source of livelihood for 67 percent of the country’s population that resides in rural areas,” he said.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), half of the country’s population, 7.7 million, require food assistance in 2020 due to the impact of drought and Cyclone Idai in 2019.
However, the government had commenced a grain importation program to ensure families both in urban and rural areas do not go without food to cushion the effects of drought.