Japan announces US$14.8m for Zimbabwe grain imports

Farmers have demanded better pay for their grain (pic: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo)

Japan has announced US$14.8 million in additional funding for food aid in Zimbabwe, to be channeled through through the World Food Programme (WFP) and the government of Zimbabwe.

The funding will be used for the import and distribution of 125,600 metric tonnes of maize by June, the WFP said in a statement on Wednesday. The WFP estimates that this consignment of maize will feed 512,000 households in rural areas for a period of six months.

The food aid will be distributed via the government’s food aid programme, the Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy (FDMS).

“We welcome this generous and timely contribution from the Government and people of Japan to support the food needs of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable people, who are struggling to put food on the table. The maize procured to support the Government’s efforts will help to cushion Zimbabweans at the peak of the hunger season”, said Eddie Rowe, WFP Country Representative and Director.

[Click to see – IN PICTURES: One village’s devastation at the hands of Zimbabwe’s worst drought in 40 years]

Successive drought

Successive droughts, including the worst drought in 40 years over the past year, has left millions of Zimbabwe facing hunger. A recent assessment, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, showed that the number of acutely food-insecure Zimbabweans has risen to 4.3 million, from 3.8 million at the end of 2019. The total number of food insecure people now stands at 7.7 million, the WFP says.

Toshiyuki Iwado, the Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe, said: “Japan has relied on the expertise of WFP to provide food assistance and build the resilience of drought-affected communities for many years. Given the extent and severity of the current food insecurity crisis in Zimbabwe, the Government of Japan decided to increase its funding even further.”

The WFP says it still has a shortfall of US$130 million to meet its emergency response plan for Zimbabwe. The COVID-19 outbreak is set to worsen the crisis, it said.

Local Government Minister July Moyo said Zimbabwe’s humanitarian appeal now stands at US$2 billion.

“The donation by the Government of Japan has come at an opportune time when the Government is grappling to address food insecurity which has resulted from the 2019/2020 drought and the current economic reforms,” Moyo said.