The jingle is now boring. Some might even say it is irritating. The dance is obscene. It verges on child abuse. But the message: Kana mvura ikanaya chete tichazadza matura (If only it rains we will fill our granaries), is increasingly turning true.
The latest report from the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net) says while the anticipated cereal deficit could be between 500 000 and 800 000 tonnes, at the moment grain availability is no longer the critical constraint, but its inadequate distribution throughout the country poses a significant problem.
The country was expected to have a deficit of only 61 000 tonnes in March but FEWS Net said this could easily be met by on farm stocks which ranged from 20 000 to 100 000 tonnes.
In the rural areas the early harvest of green maize, pumpkins and squash was already improving food security. Areas along the Zambezi Valley, northern parts of Nyanga and the southern district of Manicaland, where planting was only possible in January, have not benefitted from these early harvests.
The southern provinces of Masvingo, Matebeleland South and southern pats of Manicaland were also adversely affected and were depending on food relief.
FEWS said 75 percent of the maize crop was planted between mid-December and mid-January. If the rains tapered off, as they normally did, from mid-March, more than 20 percent of the crop might not reach maturity.
The rains have not tapered off and it looks they might go well into April.
In the urban areas, the biggest problem seems to be affordability. The food basket for the low income earners had shot up to $851 000 in January while the minimum wage officially remained at $47 000 a month.
Theoretically this means the lowest paid worker has to labour for 18 months to afford one month’s basic requirements. Even those earning the tax free $200 000 a month have to work for four months to buy a month’s basic requirements.
Makes one wonder how people are surviving.