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Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET)

Zimbabwe: Food Security update

Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET)

February 2006

SARPN acknowledges the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) as the source of this document:
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  • Summaries and Calendar
  • Cost of Living Continues to Rise
  • Maize Deficit Projected
Summary and Implications

The food security situation throughout Zimbabwe remained precarious during January and February 2006. The availability of staple cereals for purchase was erratic and grossly inadequate throughout the country. Maize was only occasionally available on markets either as grain or flour in both rural and urban centers. Extremely high maize prices and the escalating cost of living continue to make it difficult for poor households to purchase sufficient quantities of staple cereals, complementary foods and other basic household goods.

However, food assistance programs in nearly all rural districts of Zimbabwe helped about 52 percent of the rural population access adequate cereals they would otherwise have failed to get on their own. Also, wild foods such as mushrooms and edible worms did not only make a marked contribution to many rural households’ food needs in January and February, but also presented households with opportunities for earning cash income they could use to purchase other foods and non-food household necessities. This is very important given that income generating opportunities have continued to dwindle in step with the economic decline Zimbabwe is experiencing. General food availability will improve further with the green harvest (okra, pumpkins, groundnuts, squashes and maize) that began in late February 2006.

Preliminary indications reveal that this year’s maize production will be greater than last year’s 550,000 MT but well below the 1990’s average, and below national consumption requirements estimated at between 1,600,000 and 1,700,000 MT for 2006. Producers of staple cereals faced numerous challenges that include critical shortages of fuel and fertilizers and excessive rainfall that leached soil nutrients in many places. Labor shortages were common among the newly resettled commercial farmers and this, together with the excessive rainfall, hampered adequate and timely weeding.

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