Reference Date: 17-October-2012
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Planting of the 2012/13 season’s crops is about to begin with favourable rainfall forecasts for northern regions
Decline in 2012 cereal harvest following protracted dry spell and reduced plantings
Maize prices are high in southern deficit producing areas but are stable at relatively lower levels in Harare
An estimated 1.2 million people are currently food insecure with projections indicating a rise to 1.67 for the period January-March 2013
Mixed rains forecast for 2012/13 cropping season
Land preparations are underway and planting activities are expected to begin in November, when the first seasonal rains are forecast to start. However, reports indicate that access to inputs may be restricted this season due to financial constraints.
The rainfall forecast for the main October-March rainy season points to favourable weather conditions in northern parts of the country, which normally produce the bulk of the domestic grain output. However, below normal precipitation is forecast for the low producing southern regions.
Livestock conditions deteriorate
Poor water availability and precipitation in southern provinces have led to deterioration in livestock conditions. An estimated 1.33 million cattle have been affected by the dry conditions and lack of adequate pasture. Measures are being put in place to help alleviate the situation, including the distribution of stock feed and veterinary medicines.
Lower 2012 harvest, but stocks and imports help bridge national deficit
The maize output from the 2011/12 cropping season registered a sharp 33 percent decline compared with the previous season, estimated at 968 000 tonnes. Millet and sorghum production also decreased to below 2011 levels, while declines were also recorded for groundnuts, soy beans, sunflower and sugar beans. Overall, cereal production in 2012 is put at 1.13 million tonnes, nearly one third less than last year’s good output. This figure also includes the winter wheat crop, estimated to be below 2011’s output. Production of wheat continues to be constrained by lack of access to inputs and an unstable power supply.
The 2012 domestic cereal harvest is estimated to satisfy approximately 55 percent of total national requirements for the current 2012/13 marketing year (April/May). Although imports of cereals are set to increase, sizeable carry-over stocks from last year’s good harvests has enabled the country to partially meet the national deficit through its reserves. A more conducive economic environment has led to improvements in private sector operations, and commercial imports are therefore anticipated to fill a large proportion of the deficit under the current conditions.
Higher prices recorded in southern markets
Prices of maize grain in Harare declined from their seasonal peak of USD 0.33 per kg in March 2012 and have since stabilised through to September at USD 0.29 per kg. Prices in the south, which experienced production short-falls in 2012, are generally at higher levels, and in Gwanda, Matabeleland South, prices were nearly twice as high as Harare. Higher fuel costs are also putting upward pressure on grain prices in deficit producing regions.
An estimated 1.2 million persons are currently food insecure
The sharp drop in cereal production and poor livestock conditions have led to the deterioration of n the food security situation. The findings from the national vulnerability assessment (ZimVAC) indicate that an estimated 1.2 million persons in rural areas are food insecure. This number is projected to increase during the peak of the lean season, between January and March 2013, to approximately 1.67 million people, 19 percent of the rural population. The southern provinces of Masvingo and Matabeleland South are estimated to have the highest rates of food insecurity, and higher maize prices recorded in these areas therefore represents a serious concern. In northern parts of the country, which fared better in the 2011/12 cropping season, production is estimated to be adequate to cover longer periods than those in the south and food security conditions are comparatively more stable.