Letter to the Diaspora

As disaster looms in Zimbabwe, guest blogger Black Technocrat has a plea to the Diaspora community.

Queue for food aid

Queue for food aid

To my fellow Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, especially those who have relatives in the rural area, which means just about everyone, brace yourselves for a catastrophic food shortage in a few months. Dangerously too many of our peasants have yet to plough their fields or for the crop meant to be consumed in 2016. This is not by choice on their part.
As we say paChikaranga, matenga aterama kumusha. Verily I say unto you, the kind of rain we expect in October, thus signaling the beginning of the planting season, that rain has yet to fall. I am saying this as the middle of January is fast approaching. Under normal circumstances, our commercial and rural farms are verdant because of the crops this time in the planting season; not so this year. There is a clear and looming disaster back home.

Government failure

It is good to talk about the government’s failure to pay civil servants their bonuses, which they are not entitled to get anyway. Be that as it may, to talk about such a comparatively trivial matter in the face of a fast-encroaching food disaster is far worse than a man whose head is on the chopping block and, yet, that doomed man is preoccupied with the state of his poorly trimmed beard. We need to find ways to fend off the starvation that is stalking our peasantry – I am referring to those of us in the Diaspora rather than our fellow citizens back in Zimbabwe, particularly those in government. Unless I am badly mistaken, and I have been mistaken on numerous occasions, I do not see this government stepping up to forestall what is likely to be a disastrous food crisis in rural Zimbabwe.

Wrong maize seed

To this government’s credit, and we have to give credits where it is due, it has been distributing maize seed and fertilizer. However, the brand being distributed has a long maturation life. Late as the rains are in coming this year, the government needs to distribute the Mukadziusaende maize seed. This is the hybrid that takes two months to harvest from the moment of planting the seed. Furthermore, more so if we take into cognizance the sporadic nature of this growing season’s rainfall, the Two-Months maize hybrid is more drought resistant than the hybrid whose seed is being distributed. Unless we take this measure very quickly, which is next to being impossible, we are headed for a national disaster.

Why maize?

I have lamented our folly of adopting maize as our staple food in light of its high demand for water. With our unreliable rainfall pattern, to grow maize in Zimbabwe is what we call growing and reaping starvation. This patently foolish move may come back to haunt us this year. It need not have to come to this. Unless we act, we are likely to find ourselves surviving on browsing grass and eating wild roots.

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Black Technocrat Bvumavaranda is a writer, scientist, entrepreneur and lover of African history.

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