President Emmerson Mnangagwa is being accused of lying to the world that Zimbabwe is food secure with sufficient wheat stocks and capacity to export the commodity.
Presenting at the Feed Africa Summit in Dakar, Senegal, early this week, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was food secure.
“In Zimbabwe we had the problem of food insecurity and we said, how much food do we want in a year to feed our nation and the figure we got was two million tonnes of grain.
“So we said, because there is climate change, how many hectares of land can we put under irrigation to produce two million-plus tonnes to feed the nation and we determined how much yield does a hectare have hence we knew the figures and we did that and we are now food secure.
“Secondly we had been importing our wheat from Ukraine and fertiliser from Russia, now that side is problematic.
“We thus decided to say we need about 240 000 tonnes of wheat, so how many hectares do we need under irrigation to grow wheat and we calculated and put that number under wheat and we are now wheat sufficient and we believe next season we will be able to export wheat,” said the President.
Mnangagwa’s sentiments contradict the World Food Programme (WFP) which recently reported that Zimbabwe is among the world’s hungriest countries.
WFP estimated that 5,7 million people in Zimbabwe urgently needed food aid.
Political analysts, however, accused Mnangagwa of misrepresenting facts about the food situation in his country.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said Zimbabwe was still far from being food secure.
“These are lies. If you check Fewsnet and WFP reports, you can sense that our county exists on the borderline of food insecurity. Costs of inputs double every year due to currency problems, and farmers have no borrowing capacity due to high interest rates.
“Climate change makes rain-dependent agriculture risky. Zimbabwe is yet to recover from the effects of violent property rights violations which left millions of acres of arable land in the hands of incompetent (Zanu-PF) party surrogates.”
Another political analyst Effie Ncube said Mnangagwa was just “grandstanding and using the opportunity for propaganda. What he did is misleading the world.”
However, economist Prosper Chitambara said the county was making progress on food security.
“The country is making a progress towards food security. We have seen the successes in winter wheat production last year,” he said.
“However, I think there is a lot of work in terms of investments, completion of dam projects that government is embarking on, and we need to upscale our investments on irrigation. We need to put more land under irrigation and improve the rural economy.”