[United Nations Country Team Message] On World Food Day

Today, Zimbabwe and the rest of the world commemorate World Food Day under the global theme “Agricultural Cooperatives – Key to Feeding the World”.  The theme is in line with UN General Assembly Resolution which dedicated the year 2012 to “International Year of Cooperatives”. This was done to highlight the growing contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development, particularly their impact on poverty reduction, employment generation and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Globally, the United Nations advocates for food security at all levels, with a focus on farming families and agricultural cooperatives as major contributors to sustainable development.

The United Nations in Zimbabwe, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme, is partnering with Government of Zimbabwe to commemorate 2012 World Food Day. The day is also seen as a precursor to UN Day on 24 October, where we collectively assess progress and renew commitment to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Challenges of poverty and inequality often originate in the stagnation and retrogression of economic life in rural areas where livelihoods depend on agriculture. 

In Zimbabwe, agriculture is the backbone of the economy. It contributes 15-20 percent of GDP, 40 percent of exports, 60 percent of raw materials used by the domestic manufacturing industry and is a source of livelihood for 70 percent of the population. Over the past decade, there has been increased food and nutrition insecurity at household and national levels emanating from reduced productivity and production of main crops.

Due to food production deficits, approximately 1.6 million people will require food assistance at the peak of the 2012-2013 lean season.  In response to this situation, the United Nations in Zimbabwe, in support of the Government and in partnership with humanitarian partners, has started implementing a Seasonal Targeted Assistance Programme to meet the needs of vulnerable food insecure people as identified in the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee - ZIMVAC Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report.

To achieve food security at household and national levels in a sustainable manner, there is a need to implement programmes that build resiliency to climate factors and improve productivity for smallholder farmers. Notably, the United Nations in Zimbabwe is supporting the adoption of the Conservation Agriculture Strategy as well as initiatives to provide market linkages which assist farmers to sustain food production.  In addition, the United Nations recently supported the review of the land tenure system, facilitated an extensive agricultural input support programme as well as the development of the Food and Nutrition Policy.

On the occasion of World Food Day, the United Nations Country Team reiterates its continued commitment and support to national efforts which ensure sustainable food security in Zimbabwe.