CABINET has approved a US$200 million National Schools Feeding Scheme to feed four million pupils when the second term of 2016 opens, as Government moves to ensure food security following an El-Nino-induced drought.
School children will receive sadza, beans or vegetables for lunch, while porridge will be served for breakfast. Priority will be given to those in provinces worst affected by drought.
Zimbabwe appealed for US$1,6 billion to feed vulnerable households and build future capacity.
Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Professor Paul Mavhima said the feeding programme would become a permanent feature to be extended beyond the drought period.
“Government has approved a US$$199 million proposal for the National Schools Feeding Scheme. This means we will receive a portion of the amount that will be raised from the Emergency Food Relief programme currently underway,” he said.
“The criteria of the age groups will depend on the food that we would have received. We will obviously start with the infants and provinces that are hard-hit by the drought. Preferably, we want two meals per day but we will start with one meal.”
Prof Mavhima said Government was working with development partners such as Unicef to source food, and efforts were underway to rope in the private sector for money, seed and irrigation equipment to grow crops in school gardens.
By October 2015, around 3 000 pupils had dropped out of school in Matabeleland South province due to hunger.
Prof Mavhima said the ministries of Agriculture and Social Welfare were part of the implementation matrix in the push to guarantee food security.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said as of last week the country had 99 000 tonnes of grain, sufficient for three months cover.
She allayed fears of food shortages, saying grain importation was already underway.
“The schools feeding programme will commence in May and it will be for the infants from Grade 0 to 2. We will be moving to other grades with time as we target vulnerable children,” said the minister.
The latest Vulnerability Assessment Committee Rapid Assessment Report states that the number of food insecure people has reached three million and President Mugabe has declared the 2015/2016 farming season a disaster.
Government has slashed the price of maize from the Grain Marketing Board from US$24 to US$15 per 50 kg bag when selling to individuals, though the cost to commercial buyers remains unchanged.
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