Parts of Zimbabwe suffered serious crop failures earlier this year and a million people are likely to need food assistance as a result, according to a report by the Solidarity Peace Trust, a civic organization based in South Africa
Though the rainy season has begun in Zimbabwe, the organization warns that next year could see increased food insecurity because the government has failed small farmers by not making seed and fertilizer widely available to them.
The group said Harare should urgently spread seed and fertilizer among small farmers, and is urging South Africa to hold off on deportations of undocumented Zimbabweans who may only face hunger if they are sent home in the months ahead.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network earlier this week warned that one in 10 Zimbabweans will need food aid through year’s end, more in early 2012.
Solidarity Peace Trust director Shari Eppel, the report's co-author, said there is grinding poverty in the frequently parched province of Matabeleland South in particular.
She said that in Gwanda, for example, half of the households interviewed spent a day without food, and most of them lost livestock to drought and marauding baboons.
Gwanda North lawmaker Thandeko Zinti-Mnkandla said hunger is widespread due to a poor harvest this year and insufficient assistance from government and NGOs.
Eppel said the Finance Ministry has announced it will fund crop inputs for 100,000 small farmers and subsidize them for another 250,000 through a system of vouchers that will be administered by the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board.
“But when you speak to people on the ground they have never heard of this system," Eppel said, "and yet the rains have already started and people should be planting.”