Sat, 22 Oct 2016 09:55:45 +0000
MINISTER of Agriculture Dora Siliya has rubbished the latest Global Hunger Index, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute which has ranked Zambia as the third hungriest nation on the planet.
Instead, Ms Siliya has assured the nation that Zambia is food secure and the country has got sufficient maize to last up to April, 2017.
In a ministerial statement issued in Parliament yesterday, Ms. Siliya said 100,000 MT of maize would be harvested by March next year.
Ms. Siliya said Zambia had enough maize for human consumption and industrial requirements because Government had put in place adequate measures to guard the grain.
The Hunger Index ranks countries based on undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting (low weight for height) and child stunting (low height for age).
The 2016 report ranked 118 developing countries with Zambia third from last, only better than the Central African Republic and Chad.
Ms Siliya said it could not be true that Zambia was the third hungriest national because there were worse neighbouring countries that depended on Zambia’s food as seen in continued smuggling of maize to such countries. She said while Zambia provided data to the research, other countries did not.
“Zambia provided the data while Congo, Burundi and other countries did not provide the data and so they are not even part of that index, if I am not mistaken. Certainly, we are arguing as Government that while we are a willing partner in providing this data, we believe that the way the data is collected is skewed towards making Zambia be in a bad position because other variables are not considered.
“One of them is consumption. Yes, we can concede that maybe there is a distribution challenge but that does not take away from the fact that we believe that consumption levels were not addressed in that index. I thought it was important that we put that into context because the variables that are being used to put Zambia, as a country, third from the bottom in terms of hunger. We, as Government, are disputing that and we don’t believe that the variables used are inclusive,” Siliya said.
She said Government was working closely with institutions like the African Development Bank to identify other crops that were much better than maize in terms of nutrition.
“Why is it that in Zambia when we talk about mealie meal, we think it is just maize. I think that going forward we need to give citizens a choice. Agriculture must be managed in a businesslike manner. Those that want to eat mealie meal from a product like maize, which is very expensive, must be prepared to pay the price. Those that want to eat mealie meal from cassava, they can pay a different price. There must be choices and different prices in terms of food and not that mealie meal.
By Nation Reporter