ZIMBABWE’S crop and livestock production will be negatively affected by delays in rainfall being experienced in the 2018/19 season, a food security report by the United States Agency for International Development has warned.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The report, titled Zimbabwe Food Security Outlook (December 2018 to May 2019), notes that low rainfall will increase the national maize deficit to below-average for the 2018-19 marketing season to March 2019.
“The start of the 2018-19 rainfall season has been delayed and rains have been erratic so far. Rainfall levels across most of the country are below the normal long-term average. This has adversely affected on-farm activities such as land preparation, planting and casual labour opportunities which are below typical levels for this time of the year,”
“Areas to the southern and western parts of the country, covering parts of Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South, are worst affected because they have received insignificant rains to date. The dryness is also affecting water and pasture conditions that are, especially poor in arid areas of the country.”
The country, however, is expected to be around 77% maize self-sufficient, which is attributed mainly to above-average (5%) annual national supplies from mostly carryover stocks and average production from the 2017-18 production season.
The report noted that while the condition of small stock was good to fair across most areas, cattle conditions were deteriorating in typical areas that had received insignificant rains so far.
“This is compounded by a high and increasing prevalence of livestock diseases including anthrax, foot and mouth, tick-borne, and January (Theileriosis) disease. The prices for supplementary feeding and livestock drugs have increased substantially as well, and some drugs are unavailable on the markets,”
“It is reported that some outlets are only accepting payment in US dollars. Cattle deaths are being reported in some parts of the country and are affecting draught power and household incomes.”
The liquidity crisis which has hit all sectors of the economy has also created critical shortages of fertilizers, other chemicals and crop inputs that is expected to hit farmers in terms of crop preparations”.
Normally, local manufacturing companies and importers provide these supplies but they have been facing difficulties in meeting demand and sustaining operations because of the ongoing liquidity crisis in the country.
“Since October, the prices of seed, fertiliser, and other chemicals have increased significantly (in some cases by over 200%), adversely affecting access by poor households. The crop input assistance scheme that is implemented by the government is reported to be facing resource challenges.”