Masvingo Bureau — ABOUT 400 000 villagers in Masvingo require food assistance amid fears that the province might have another poor harvest next year owing to erratic rains. Nearly 75 percent of the staple maize crop was written off in the last farming season due to drought.
The 2012/2013 farming season has started on a bad note with erratic rains hampering preparations across the province.
Zaka has the highest number of people starving with about 150 000 people in need of food relief.
Masvingo Governor and Resident Minister Titus Maluleke recently said Government would intensify efforts to move grain to hunger stricken villagers under the Grain Loan scheme.
Government, he said, would ensure that no one starves.
He urged GMB to set up more satellite depots and deliver grain to hunger-stricken villages.
"There is a serious food shortage in the province with the worst affected districts being those in the southern parts of Masvingo such as Zaka, Mwenezi, Chiredzi and Chivi," said Governor Maluleke.
"But as Government we will make sure that all the hunger-stricken villagers receive food assistance under the Grain Loan Scheme.
"We want to assure our people that as Government we do not want to see anyone starving. We are going to make sure that grain moves to all the cornersof the province."
He said Government would continue developing irrigation schemes in Masvingo and shift from over dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
"We are going to continue to push our people to shift to small grains and also develop more irrigation schemes because the changing weather patterns have been causing droughts, especially in Masvingo more frequently over the past 10 years," he said.
In most districts, farmers are yet to prepare their land and plant crops because of erratic rains since the beginning of the rainy season.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union regional manager Mr Jeremiah Chimwanda said only 40 percent of the total arable land has been planted in the province so far due to poor and erratic rains.
"The erratic rains have severely affected farming preparations and out of the total arable land in Masvingo, about 40 percent has so far been put under crops with farmers in other areas still waiting for rains to enable them to prepare the land," he said.
Mr Chimwanda urged farmers who have not yet planted to select short season crop varieties as the main agricultural season was almost midway.