Sunday, 24 November 2013

TZ insecure as 61 districts face severe food shortages

 Locals repack relief maize into smaller bags. The maize was distributed by a religious organisation to thousands to people who faced hunger in Manyani District, Singida Region this year. PHOTO | FILE .

Dar es Salaam. Despite various initiatives and measures taken to improve food availability and sustainability in the country, hunger is still prevalent in some parts of the country; Drive Hot on Sunday can report.
As we bring you this special report in Tanzania, 61 districts face acute food shortage – a clear indication that more efforts need to be made to improve the food situation, especially for the country that has been bestowed with abundant and suitable land for farming.
The state of food insecurity being experienced in some parts of the country has been retarding efforts to capitalise on and commercialise the agricultural sector through the ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ initiative.
Inefficient application of science and technology in crop production among farmers as well as poor climatic conditions and the rapidly growing population, are some of the key setbacks in addressing food availability and sustainability challenges in the country, whose agriculture largely depend on seasonal rains.
Even though Tanzania celebrated the World’s Food Day at the national level on October 16 in Manyara Region, it still has a long way to go to improve food security in some parts of the country, where the problem has been recurring over the years.
World statistics on food security show that about 842 million people – roughly one in eight, suffered from chronic hunger between 2011 and 2013. Despite the fact that this has dropped down from 868 million people who suffered from hunger  during the 2010-2012 season, food security is still a big challenge in both developed and developing nations.
The new State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2013 report compiled by the UN Food Agency, Fao, reveals that from 842 million people who suffered from chronic hunger in 2011-2013, 15.7 per cent of them (132.2 million) live in developed countries.
In poor countries like Tanzania, the report says hunger and poverty reduction will only be achieved with growth that is not only sustained, but also broadly shared.
“Growth can raise incomes and reduce hunger, but higher economic growth may not reach everyone,” stresses the report.
Speaking recently during the celebrations to mark the World’s Food Day in Manyara Region, Mr Stephen Wassira, the minister of State in the President’s Office charged with Social Relations and Coordination, said that in 2012/13 Tanzania managed to produce 13.34 million tonnes of food that were able to sustain the country by 112 per cent.
However, between February and March this year, the country had to import some 20,000 tonnes of maize from Zambia under special bilateral arrangements between the two countries because some parts of Tanzania faced acute food shortages.
Mr Wassira noted that the government was working out  ways to curb food challenges that are facing 61 local authorities in Tanzania, including collecting enough food stocks through the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and encouraging modern agricultural practices.