Crisis expected in deficit-producing areas as lean season kicks in

An increase in the number of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes is also likely in typical surplus-producing areas in the north.

FOLLOWING the premature cessation of the rainy season around mid-January, significantly below-normal to failed harvests, high food and other commodity prices, and constrained access to markets are expected to continue to drive area-level Crisis (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, IPC  Phase 3) outcomes in deficit-producing areas into the post-harvest period.

An increase in the number of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes is also likely in typical surplus-producing areas in the north.

Additionally, the ongoing macro-economic issues are expected to further compound the impact of the poor harvests across the country through the post-harvest period as households largely remain dependent on market purchases for food.

The historically dry conditions since mid-January and very high temperatures continue to further reduce potential crop yields as crops permanently wilt or face increased water stress across the country.

Rainfall received through the remainder of the typical rainy season is unlikely to support the recovery of crops in most areas.

Water and pasture conditions are also deteriorating in most areas, especially in typical semi-arid areas, with urban areas like Bulawayo experiencing critical water supply shortages.

Many farmers in typical semi-arid areas are increasingly destocking their livestock, especially cattle, in response to poor water and pasture availability, constrained access to supplementary feeds and deteriorating livestock body conditions.

This has caused significant cattle price reductions, with most buyers offering less than 50% of normal prices at this time of the year, depriving farmers of potential income.

The local currency further depreciated in March, with the formal exchange rate increasing by nearly 50% and parallel market rates by 40%-70% to US$1:ZWL$22 055 and US$1:ZWL$26 000-ZWL$32 000 by March 28, respectively, compared to the end of February 2024.

The rapid depreciation is driving further increases in Zimdollar prices of goods and services, which are now increasingly too expensive for low-income and other households earning in the Zimdollar.

In March, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency reported an over 60% increase in the Zimdollar cost of living, with the blended USD-ZWL$ annual inflation rate rising to 55,3% in March.

Most poor households engaged in petty trade, casual labour, self-employment and other income-earning activities are earning in US dollars, but overall US dollar household income remains low.

Similarly, most typical and seasonal agricultural and non-agricultural labour opportunities and other income sources remain below normal. - Famine Early Warning System Network

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