The government has issued a brief report on the state of availability of food in the country in which it has been revealed that 63 districts will face food shortage in 2012/2013 financial year.
Tabling the 2012/2013 estimates for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives in Parliament on Friday, the minister, Christopher Chiza said the preliminary assessment from which the brief report emanated was conducted last month by the ministry in collaboration with regional and district secretariats.
However, the ministry could not reveal the list of districts forecast to face food shortage. Instead, the minister listed regions that would face food shortage as Arusha, Dar esSalaam, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Shinyanga and Tabora.
The minister said the preliminary survey revealed that in 2012/2013, the country would harvest a total of 13,572,804 tons against the national demand of 11,990,115 tons.
“Though some districts will face food shortage the projected harvest shows the nation will have sufficient amounts of food to cater for the needs of its people by 113 per cent,” the minister emphasised.
According to the minister, eight regions are expected to record bumper harvests, namely Iringa, Mbeya, Rukwa, Ruvuma ,Kigoma, Morogoro and Kagera.
Speaking on the state of food in the world, the minister said that according to reports from the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) released June 2012, the production of cereals is expected to increased by 3.2 per cent worldwide this year.
The report, according to the minister, says, a total of 2.42 billion tons of cereals are expected to be harvested against the world demand of 2.38 billion tons in 2012/2013.
He said though the FAO report showed increase in production of cereals in the world, in 36 countries production will dwindle, creating shortages of different magnitudes.
In general, he said East and Southern African countries, especially Burundi, Congo DRC, Kenya , South Sudan, Somalia, Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique are expected to face food shortages.
He predicted that shortages in the listed countries could contribute to hiking of food prices in the country as it happened recently.
Chiza said to avoid shortages of food in 2012/2013 in the country, the government would enable the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to purchase 200,000 tons of cereals from farmers in Iringa, Rukwa, Mbeya and Ruvuma regions.
He also said 100,000 tons of cereals would be ferried from NFRA reserves with excess to regional reserves with shortages. Other measures would include sensitising farmers on the need to keep cereals and other foods crops in their stores.
The ministry has demanded a total of Sh237.624 billion in its estimates out of which Sh 170.364 billion is for recurrent expenditure while Sh67.260 billion is slated for development expenditure.
What is surprising is that out of Sh 67.260 billion earmarked for development expenditure, about Sh 14.937 billion would be domestic funds while a whopping Sh52.323 billion is billed to be foreign aid and loans, whose availability has frequently been at issue.