THE Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) has warned that the ongoing cash crisis could plunge poor families into a deep poverty cycle this month, as they will be forced to spend their little savings on school fees and uniforms this month.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
In its latest report, Fewsnet also predicted that drought-prone areas such as Masvingo would continue to require food aid until March.
“Generally, livelihood options and household incomes will remain constrained given the prevailing economic and liquidity challenges.
“Persistent cash shortages during the festive season, coupled with increased non-food demands in the new school term in early 2017, will put pressure on access to food for poor households,” the non-governmental organisation said, adding maize prices would go up, as demand peaks between January and March and drop in April, when farmers start harvesting.
“Demand levels for maize meal will remain higher in the south compared to the north. Expected average crop harvests in April and May will reduce prices, as own-produced cereal consumption starts to take place.”
The organisation said a significant national deficit of maize would remain until March, with the national cereal deficit for the 2016 to 2017 consumption year estimated at about 1,6 million metric tonnes, following a second consecutive year of poor rainfall and drought conditions that resulted in maize production levels of only 50% of the five-year average.
In the southern parts of the country, normal to below normal rains are predicted for January to March 2017, which may constrain food access, while in the north, Fewsnet said, green harvests were expected to be normal starting around February to March, which would enhance food access and diversity.
Fewsnet was created by the United States Agency for International Development in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian assistance in 35 countries, including Zimbabwe, and they are a provider of early warning signs of food insecurity through evidence-based analysis.