Dodoma — Food distribution to hunger stricken citizens has started, with the government announcing the possibility of missing the 2017/18 food production target.
At least 35,491 tonnes of food will be distributed to about 1.2 million people in 55 districts countrywide to mitigate food shortage between February and April, this year, the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Charles Tizeba, said here yesterday.
Presenting the national state of food and nutrition in the National Assembly, the minister said, "About 3,549 tonnes of food are urgently needed for distribution to the 118,603 needy people."The number of districts facing food shortage has just risen to 55 from 43 last season.
In 2015, the government projected to produce 16.2 million tonnes against the food requirement of 13.2 million tonnes for 2016. The three million surplus included the 1.1 million tonnes of cereals and 1.9 million tonnes of non-cereals.
The minister said that about 1,969 tonnes of improved maize, millet and tuberous root seeds are currently needed in the 55 districts that have recorded poor rains, adding that the seeds must reach farmers within this month.
He said the government had embarked on efforts to distribute low-priced food in the all identified areas to enable Tanzanians with economic hardship to access food in their localities.
Dr Tizeba admitted that food prices were high in many areas in the country due to maize hoarding by some dishonesty businesspeople, "However, huge demand for maize in the neighbouring countries at higher prices was fuelling prices for the product in the domestic markets."