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FEWSNET Says Food Security Situation Stable in Zimbabwe

Zimbabweans collect food aid from a distribution point in Mutawatawa, about 220km northeast of the capital Harare, November 25, 2013. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), over 2 million FILE: Zimbabwean people are in need of food aid due to a poor harvest. Picture taken November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) - RTX15TGB

The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) says the food security situation in Zimbabwe is stable across the country, including traditionally cereal deficit areas in the south and western parts of the country.

In its latest report released Saturday, FEWSNET said minimal acute food insecurity outcomes are projected from January through June since most households are still consuming cereals from the previous season, while some are supplementing this food with market purchases or in-kind payment for casual labor activities.

“Very poor households are expected to supplement own production cereal stocks from the previous harvest with market purchases January through March. Households without enough income will also access staple food through in-kind payment of on-farm causal labor activities. The delayed green harvest will likely provide an alternative source of food to households with food deficits from March onwards.”

The international organization said in a statement, “Average national maize grain prices are 23 percent below last year’s levels and projected to be stable when compared to the two-year average. This is a result of lower market demand for staple food since most households are still consuming staple food from the previous harvest.”

It noted that the agricultural season started nearly three weeks late, and this was followed by abnormal dryness in the northern parts of the country.

“On-farm activities, including land preparation, planting, and weeding are ongoing in all provinces. This has increased incomes for some households through on-farm casual labor opportunities. Insufficient rainfall and abnormal dryness in October and November contributed to the 2-3 week delayed start of the season, particularly in the northern areas, and a slow start of agriculture related income earning activities.

FEWSNET said above-normal rainfall starting in December, resulted in localized flooding in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, and Manicaland Provinces leading to leaching and destruction of early planted crops.

The government is monitoring any Armyworm problems in Mashonaland Provinces following an outbreak during the first week of January in Mbire, Mt Darwin, and Muzarabani districts in Mashonaland Central Province.

According to United Nations estimates, about 500 of the 1,200 households impacted by the flooding are in urgent need of assistance.

The organization said southern parts of the country including parts of Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, and Masvingo are currently experiencing mid-season dry spells and crops are already showing signs of moisture stress.

It said a continuation of these conditions into February could lead to wilting.

FEWSNET further said agriculture inputs are available on the market and through the government agriculture input scheme. “The majority of the farmers are accessing agriculture inputs through purchases in retails shops at district markets. Prices for maize seed are approximately 20 percent above last year’s level at most of the monitored markets.”

It said livestock is in good condition and there has been an improvement of pastures in most of the areas due to heavy rains that were received in December and a localized outbreak of foot and mouth disease was reported in some districts in Masvingo and Matabeleland South Provinces.

“Farmers interviewed, including in the southern parts of the country, are expecting an increase in incomes from livestock sales including goats and sheep. Government safety-net programs are ongoing in 21 targeted districts, assisting the most vulnerable and labor constrained households through the harmonized social cash transfer program that provides a monthly cash distribution of between US$15 to $25.

“The World Food Program (WFP) is also implementing the disaster response and risk reduction (Conditional Lean Season Assistance) targeting seasonally food-insecure vulnerable households.”