Hunger stalks Zim



At least 5 million Zimbabweans, up from 4 million in April this year, are in need of food assistance with the government under pressure to provide more safety nets, a new report has shown.

The report released this week was jointly done by the World Food Programme (WFP), International Organisation for Migration and Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“…The estimated population facing inadequate food consumption was 4.8m people in April but increased to above 5m people in June,” the report reads in part.

“This situation is typical for a poor cropping season when the lean season starts early, particularly in deficit-producing areas of the country, immediately after the harvest.

“The highest estimated prevalence of insufficient consumption was reported in Matabeleland North and Masvingo, which are provinces that reported poor crop production and also have limited livelihoods options,” reads part of the report.”

Food aid agencies said the increase in inadequate food consumption and food-based coping during the harvest period such as June and the persistence of this into the post-harvest period in July through September can be attributed to reduced production by communal farmers and national macroeconomic challenges.

The report said beyond inflation and production, the ripple effects of the crisis on rising fuel, transportation costs and food prices are apparent.

The report comes as WFP has started distributing food aid to about 700 000 vulnerable people across the country as it seeks to mitigate the impact of hunger until the next harvest.

WFP is undertaking the project in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

Since late February, the availability of basic food commodities — except for maize grain that can only be legally traded by the Grain Marketing Board fluctuated on average between 70% and 80% in formal markets.

Availability of maize meal dipped at the peak of the lean season in February but improved between March and May as the government opened the import of maize grain by the private players.

“Maize and small grains are expected to be largely unavailable on most open markets throughout the outlook period given poor harvests and constraints on sales by the government.

“However, maize meal is expected to remain readily available, except in some remote rural areas with prices of most grains and maize meal are expected to stay well above average throughout the outlook period, constraining household purchasing power,” the report said.

It is understood that household cereal stocks are largely depleted in most typical deficit-producing areas following below-average 2021/22 harvests.

The majority of households in these areas are increasingly relying on market purchases of mainly maize meal to try and meet their food needs.



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