AN estimated 2,4 million rural Zimbabweans will require food assistance between October 2018 to March 2019, the 2017/2018 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report has revealed.
Last year, only 1,1 million people, who constitute 11 percent of the country’s rural population, were said to be food insecure. However, because of the erratic rains received during the 2017/2018 farming season, the number has increased.
“At least 2 423 568 people will be food insecure during the peak hunger period,” the 2018 ZimVAC Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report said.
“At peak, Masvingo and Manicaland have the highest population in need of assistance to meet their food requirements, while Matabeleland had the least population in need,” the report said.
In Masvingo, nearly 470 000 people will require food assistance, while 407 000 people in Manicaland will also need assistance.
The findings of the report show that food insecurity prevalence is projected to be 28 percent in the 2018/2019 consumption year.
ZimVAC also indicated that Zimbabwe will require $140 million for cereals and $31 million for other food commodities to provide a full food basket for the vulnerable households.
The 2017/2018 agricultural year saw the country experiencing a dry spell that lasted for 14 to 26 days, resulting in the permanent wilting of most crops.
The longest dry spells were experienced in January, with Beitbridge being the most affected with a dry spell of more than 38 days.
The fall armyworm had a devastating effect on the cereal crop, contributing to the decline in production yields.
“The proportion of households affected by the fall armyworm increased in all provinces in 2017/18 compared to the previous season except for Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South. Masvingo had the highest proportion of affected households of 67 percent while Matabeleland South had the least affected households at 29 percent,” the report said.
ZimVAC said at least 360 000 tonnes of cereals will be required to avert hunger during the period.
National cereal stocks are expected to be above average for the 2018/19 marketing and consumption year because of the above-average carry-over stocks from the 2016/17 season