Parts of southern Zimbabwe will suffer “significant” food shortages this season, the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network warned on Tuesday.
Some homes in rural areas in the south of the country have produced “next to nothing”, partly due to the late onset of rains and then a prolonged dry period, FEWSNET said in its latest report.
If no food aid is forthcoming, these households will likely be in crisis as early as July, the report said.
President Robert Mugabe’s government has acknowledged that this year’s harvest of the staple maize crop is about half of last year’s. It has dropped by 49%.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told the official Herald on Tuesday that 700 000 tons of maize would now have to be imported. He urged farmers to grow potatoes and cassava in the coming months.
Food shortages were particularly acute in the years following the launch of Mugabe’s land reform programme in 2000. The Zimbabwe president and his government blamed food shortfalls on Western sanctions and poor rains.
Last month Mugabe, 91, said his government was “putting in place contingency measures to ensure that no-one will starve”.
Made told Tuesday’s Herald that the authorities expected millers and the private sector to help provide food in urban areas.