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Poor households face food crisis: FEWSNET

Poor households face food crisis: FEWSNET

By Nyasha Chingono

POOR households face a food crisis, having already exhausted grain stocks by December 2017, the Famine Early Warming Systems Network (FEWSNET) has warned, calling for urgent food aid in affected areas in the southern and northern parts of the country.
Whereas a normal start to the season was expected, it turned out that most areas had not received sufficient rains to signal the start of the planting season by November, dashing any hopes of a decent harvest by March which is peak of the lean season.
“Above average 2016/17 crop production in the northern and other surplus-producing areas continues to ensure household access to own-produced food stocks, including for poor households. Most households are expected to retain enough stocks for own-consumption until March, resulting in minimal food security outcomes between December and May. However, most poor households in typical deficit southern, western and extreme northern areas have exhausted own produced stocks and are experiencing constrained livelihoods worsened by prevailing cash shortage,” said the report.
The projected outlook into May also reveals that humanitarian aid would not necessarily improve the food situation as it is already dire.
“These areas are experiencing stressed and crisis outcomes, but current levels of targeted humanitarian assistance will not change the food security outcomes. However, increased targeting between January and March is expected to improve area outcomes from crisis to stressed,” says FEWSNET.
Although prices of maize have remained static during the festive period, prices of grain in crisis areas are expected to rise due to growing demand for food.
“Whereas maize grain prices were expected to follow seasonal trends, prices have remained stable and have not increased between October and December 2017.
“Also, it is now expected that prices in surplus-producing and deficit areas will continue to be typically uniform or show slight variations until the end of the 2017-18 marketing season in March.
“Relatively higher prices had been expected in deficit areas compared to surplus areas,” reads the report.
With the SADC Agromet Update of December 20, having revised the rainfall forecast for January to March 2018 rainfall season from “normal to above normal” to “normal”, food security issues are expected to grow as government would require systems to ensure Zimbabwe does not starve.
Challenges in crop input distribution have continued to hamper the agriculture sector with FEWSNET citing that this would affect output.
“An earlier assumption about the start of the crop input distribution specified that this would begin ahead of the onset of the rains in October, however field reports indicate that these distributions are still ongoing, and in mid-December, a significant proportion of households had not received inputs,” says FEWSNET.
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