USAID Has Predicted Above-normal Rainfall For March
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), a food security arm of the USAID, has predicted above-normal rainfall for March.
In its latest food security outlook covering the February to September 2023 period, FEWS NET noted that during January and February, most northern areas of the country received good rainfall.
However, in most southern areas, especially Masvingo, Matabeleland South, parts of Manicaland and Midlands and also Matabeleland North Province, rainfall was erratic and poorly distributed. FEWS NET said in its update:
Normal to above-normal rainfall is expected across the country through March, which is likely to support average crop production if it is well distributed across the remainder of the season. Crop recovery is expected in typical deficit-producing areas that recorded earlier dry spells. However, affected areas may record lower-than-expected yields.
The 2022/23 cropped area for maize and small grains in some southern areas is likely to be below last year, though likely near-normal. The potential area reflects poor rainfall progression in some areas, as well as access challenges to crop inputs. Crop input prices are expected to remain significantly above average both in United States dollars (US$) and Zimbabwe dollars (Zim dollar).
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Also in the update:
1). After the harvest in April/May, maize grain prices are expected to drop before rising through September as own-produced stocks deplete and market demand rises.
2). Parallel market exchange rates will keep Zim dollar maize prices above normal in most markets throughout the projection period.
3). Maize meal supply across the country is expected to be normal throughout the outlook period.
4). Commercial millers are likely to continue relying on either GMB purchases or their own imports of maize grain through March/April.
5). With the start of the harvests in April, maize grain imports are likely to stop or be suspended. The government is likely to maintain the suspension of maize meal imports instituted in November 2022 to protect local millers from cheap imports.
6). Agricultural labour opportunities are expected to improve with the favourable rainfall forecast through March across the country, but liquidity challenges and the below-normal 2022 harvest will limit cash and in-kind payments.
7). Water access and availability for livestock and other livelihoods are expected to improve across the country through the end of the rainy season. However, rivers and reservoirs in some drier parts of the country are expected to be below normal levels, negatively impacting availability and access during the dry season.
8). Beyond the rainy season, pasture conditions in arid areas are likely to quickly deteriorate.
9). Livestock disease prevalence will likely remain high due to above-average prices and limited access to drugs.
10). Income from livestock sales will continue to be impacted by liquidity challenges, poor demand, and poor care practices that impact livestock body conditions.