Longido. The government will send nearly 10,000 tonnes of maize as emergency food to drought-hit Longido District in Arusha Region.
Out of the supplies, 1,000 bags of the cereal will be transported to the area anytime now from the National Food Reserve Authority (NRFA) storage facilities in Arusha.
The emergency maize will be sold to critically affected families at subsidized prices, according to an official of the district inhabited mainly by nomadic herders.
“Longido needs relief food as the drought situation is likely to worsen,” said Mr Solomon Mekui, from the district commissioner’s office.
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Mekui added that efforts were underway to transport 8,9961 tonnes of maize to Longido from the national food reserves in the southern highlands regions.
He said the district authorities, through the Longido MP (CCM), Mr Steven Kiruswa, have been in contact with the Agriculture ministry and other relevant agencies for the 8,961 tonne order.
Fears of hunger in Longido and large areas in Arusha and neighbouring Manyara Region are attributed to failure of the long rains as the season is coming close to an end. Residents interviewed said the price of one bag of maize has more than quintupled to Sh120,000 from as low as Sh10,000 a few months ago. The district official was speaking during the passing out of village game scouts at Ngasurai ranger post within the 1,300 square kilometre Enduimet wildlife management area (WMA).
The district natural resources officer, Mr Hillary Sandagi admitted that the drought situation in Longido this time around was serious and worrying.
“For the livestock herders, the best option is to sell some of your animals and use the money to buy food,” he advised.
He warned that just as the case with the maize, which has wilted in many areas due to failure of the rains, livestock were also likely to perish should the drought conditions persist.
The vast Longido District has a large population of livestock, which include 216,000 cattle, 399,000 goats and 301,000 sheep.
During a similar drought in 2008/2009, hundreds of families lost their large herds, forcing the government to intervene by buying animals for the critically affected herders as ‘compensation’.
Failure of rains was more evident in Arusha and other northern zone regions yesterday with the clear skies and wilting maize crop due to the scorching heat in low lying areas.
Similar fears have been expressed in Manyara, notably in Hanang, Mbulu and Babati districts, considered the zone’s food baskets.
The situation is equally worrying in Simanjiro, Kiteto, Monduli and Ngorororo districts, which are largely inhabited by nomadic pastoralists.
The deputy minister for Agriculture Omar Mgumba told the Parliament in Dodoma early this week that the government set aside Sh24 billion to purchase food for the drought hit areas.