Hunger stalks monze

Poor Farmers Input Support Programme implementation has greatly contributed to the growing hunger situation in the country, says Bweengwa Constituency Member of Parliament Highvie Hamududu.

Hamududu said Monze has not yet received farming inputs and yet it was already raining, and would eventually affect the crop maturity next year.

He said grain stocks have almost run out in Monze which had affected even those with money to buy as there was no available grain on the open market.

“The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) should move reserves to the rural areas because most places in the country are running low on maize stocks and those unable to buy should have access to the government food aid,” he said.

He charged that it was as a result of the poor seed and fertiliser distribution last year which has resulted in the looming hunger as a result of crop failure.

Hamududu, who is parliamentary chairperson on nutrition told the Daily Nation in an interview that Bweengwa had not yet started receiving input supplies and people were still enlisting for the exercise.

He explained that the people in his constituency had the ability to grow enough food if only inputs were delivered on time, but that the bad start of the planting season would hinder the success.

He was speaking at the National Learning ans Sharing event on the role of gender in improving nutrition hosted by Concern Worldwide Zambia yesterday, discussing the effective way as of engaging women in matters food security.

Concern country director Danny Harvey said the Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN) project in Mumbwa was set up to assess effective ways of improving domestic nutrition through empowering the women.

Harvey said the objective of RAIN is to develop sustainable measureable illustrations that integrated nutrition and health interventions to successfully prevent child and maternal malnutrition in rural areas in Zambia.

“Concern has been implementing the RAIN project in Mumbwa and Shibuyunji districts of Central Province since 2011 in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFRPI), Mumbwa Child Development Agency (MCDA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Health and the Community Development Mother and Child Health,” she said.

She explained that the high malnutrition levels in the country pose a negative effect on the growth and performance of children, but that empowering women would reduce the levels of stunting and improve general health among the citizens.

And Minister of Gender and Child Development Inonge Wina said the effects of micronutrient deficiencies and physical labour for the rural woman has contributed to her failure to influence the food basket.

Wina said women in most households were not economically empowered with resources and decision making on matters of nutrition.

“I am informed that more than 5000 people a third of them MEN have been trained and sensitised in knowing the importance of gender in improving nutrition, and there is a reported change of attitude by men in relation to decisions of agriculture and nutrition in the home,” she said.

She further explained that majority farmers in the rural areas were women, and that there was need to engage traditional leaders in deliberate policies to enable women own land.

She charged that due to lack of power, many women have continued suffering as they had no say in what to plant or what was done with the produce or the money after the sale.

And Hamududu said government should revisit the programme of input distribution to centre it on the women who have been disadvantaged as compared to the number of men under FISP.

“There were more men on the list of inputs as compared to the women, because the role of women in agriculture is central, because when you empower women, you address the health of the family, and the quality of nutrition for the children.

You know that when a woman is widowed, she is chased from the land and goes to suffer with her children, but if a man gets empowered with funds from produce, they buy cars to pose with which has no health or nutritional benefits for the family,” he said.