from DANAI MWARUMBA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – RECORD high food and other commodity prices are impacting on access to food among poor households as the 2018-19 lean season intensifies in Zimbabwe.
Since early October, commodity prices have been increasing following the new tax and currency measures effected by government.
Many wholesalers, supermarkets, and other retail outlets face acute
shortages of cooking oil, sugar, wheat flour, and bread among other basic commodities, which is affecting poor household food access in rural and remote areas.
Consequently, the annual inflation rate for October went up from 5,39 percent in September to a nine-year high of 20,85 percent, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), a leading provider of information and analysis on food insecurity, noted since October, the average price of maize increased by 18 percent in its sentinel sites.
In the main market in Mbare, outside the capital Harare, the staple grain costs some US$0,40 per kilogramme. Mbare is the largest market for the country and supplies other markets.
The average November price is about 76 percent higher than the same time last year and 34 percent above the five-year average.
Similarly, maize meal prices increased over the past month. The average price increased in November by 6 percent average in FEWS NET sentinel sites.
The price is about 36 percent above same time last year and 9 percent above the five-year average.
“Increases in maize meal prices are attributed partly to increased prices in packaging materials among other production cost hikes,” FEWS NET stated.
Meanwhile, international climate forecasts indicate that seasonal rainfall during the the months of November 2018 to March 2019 period across Zimbabwe, southern Malawi, southern Zambia, Madagascar, Lesotho and southern Mozambique is most likely to be below-average.
FEWS NET noted the official 2018-19 rainfall season was supposed to begin in October but rainfall has only recently begun in most parts of Zimbabwe as of late November.
As a result of the late rains, farmers in some parts of the country
started planting on the third week of November.
“Still, the levels of land preparation, planting, and on-farm casual labor opportunities are below normal for this time of the year,” FEWS NET stated.
– CAJ News