FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 2/01 - Zimbabwe

Widespread above-average rains in February and early March resulted in flooding in several parts. Severe damage to transport infrastructure, housing and crops is reported. Worst affected are the north eastern Mashonaland Central province, in particular Muzarabani in the Centernary District, where 15 000 people have lost their homes, and, in general, areas around the Zambezi river system. Foodcrops lost to the floods are reported to be significant in these parts but a detailed assessment of the extent of the agricultural damage is still underway. Overall, it is estimated that 30 000 people have been affected by the floods. The Government has launched an appeal for US$2.34 million in emergency assistance and is currently airlifting food and non-food items to inaccessible area.
Prospects for the current foodcrops are unfavourable. Severe dry weather in January, followed by excessive rains negatively affected yields of the 2001 maize and other foodcrops. In the worst affected southern areas, below average precipitation since midNovember resulted in significant reductions in plantings and yields, with plantings in most districts estimated to be less than 50 percent of normal levels and a poor harvest anticipated. Provisional forecasts indicate an aggregate maize harvest as low as 1.2 million tonnes, 41 percent below last year's level. This reflects the adverse weather but also a sharp reduction in the area planted as a result of the current programme to resettle largescale commercial farms and shortages of fuel. At the current production forecast and projected carryover stocks, the import requirement in marketing year 2001/02 would increase sharply at a time the country faces a severe foreign exchange shortage.

Currently, the overall food supply position remains satisfactory, reflecting the good maize crop of last year and large carryover stocks. However, the food situation is difficult for poor urban households and those in communal areas that rely on purchased maize. Prices of maize and other staple foods have increased sharply in recent months due to high levels of inflation, fuel shortages and continued depreciation of the national currency. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission will visit the country in late April to evaluate the 2001 food production and import requirements in 2001/02 marketing year (April/March).