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Food and Nutrition Security Policy launched

by Staff Reporter
16 May 2013 at 22:18hrs | Views
THE national nutrition situation is of major concern to Government as one in three children is chronically malnourished, President Mugabe has said.

Officially launching the Food and Nutrition Security Policy and its implementation plan in Harare yesterday, the President attributed the situation to several exogenous factors, among them recurrent and intermittent droughts and the effects of the West's illegal economic sanctions regime that curtailed Government's capacity to support agriculture and fund social services.

"The official launch of the Food and Nutrition Security and its implementation plan, indicates Government's strategic shift in addressing an issue which is not only of national, but global concern as well.

"It is a well-established fact that food and nutrition insecurity lead to a vicious cycle of malnutrition, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired mental and physical development, reduced productivity and poverty.

"In Zimbabwe, the nutrition situation is of concern to the Government as one out of every three children is chronically malnourished.

"Twenty-five percent of all deaths of children under the age of five are attributed to nutritional deficiencies and 47 percent of women are anaemic," the President said.

"Given the recent challenges of spiralling food prices and climate change, the food situation in our country has worsened as the number of people unable to meet their daily food requirements has increased by 21 percent since 1995."

The President said Government had tried to mitigate the effects of droughts and sanctions through agricultural subsidies and schemes to assist farmers with inputs among others.

Zambia, the President said, will soon start delivering 150 000 tonnes of maize here to alleviate shortages caused by the devastating drought of the past season while payment modalities for the grain would be discussed at a later date.

President Mugabe said his Zambian counterpart, President Michael Sata, made the pledge during a telephone conversation last Tuesday.

"When I was talking to him about what we had in mind about paying, he said no, no, no. He is a humorous man as you know.

"He said let us have the food in the stomachs of our people first and when we have the food in the stomachs, then we will talk about the price and I said that is a great man, he shares our affliction," President Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe received poor rains during the just-ended cropping season, resulting in food shortages.
He, however, said land reform was pivotal in addressing food and nutritional needs of the country.

"The implementation of the land reform programme has become the cornerstone of ensuring food and nutrition security as the majority of people now have access to agricultural land.

"The Government will continue to take measures that empower farmers, especially small-holder farmers and women so that they access cheap finance, knowledge on climate and the environment, smart farming systems, infrastructure and farm machinery," President Mugabe said.

President Mugabe said the policy was crafted after Government realised the need to come up with a permanent mechanism for responding to food and nutrition challenges following the devastating 1992-1993 drought, the worst to hit the country in living memory.

He said the food and nutrition situation in the country required a multi-sectoral approach.

"Given its multi-disciplinary nature, the problem of food and nutrition cannot be adequately addressed by only one sector or institution, hence the need for a coordinated implementation mechanism. Key among the sectors which have a bearing on food and nutrition security are agriculture, health, education, social services, local government, transport, energy and environment and natural resources.

"The Food and Nutrition Security Policy, therefore provides a framework for a cohesive multi-sectoral action programme with a shared vision and strategy for improved food and nutrition security," he said.

The policy would be implemented by the National Taskforce of Ministers on Food and Nutrition Security chaired by Vice President Joice Mujuru.
President Mugabe urged the private sector to assist Government through provision of financial, technical and material support.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe urged communities to be mindful of the foods they eat and called for the revival of indigenous crops.

"There is a need to revive and sustain indigenous crops, knowledge and practices that promote food security such as zunde ramambo/isiphala senkosi concept so as to promote the spirit of self-reliance within their communities," he said.

The launch was attended by various Cabinet ministers, diplomats and representatives of UN agencies.

Source - Herald