Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Most areas in Zimbabwe have received less than half their usual rainfall while more than 10 000 livestock have died in the southern parts as the country grapples with the effects of El Nino-induced poor rainfall.
Government and development partners like the United Nations have since enhanced the mobilisation of resources to cushion people from food shortages spawned by the poor rainfall that have not only manifested in Zimbabwe but the whole of sadc.
This emerged at a multi-stakeholder consultative meeting held last Friday between Government and UN agencies to assess the impact of the El Nino-induced drought in the country.
“On crop and livestock situation update, the early stages of the rainfall season characterised by severe rainfall deficits, with most areas receiving less than 50 percent of the usual rainfall. Significant rains received in the last part of November, followed by a prolonged dry spell,” read the update prepared by the Government and UN country team.
It was noted that the rainfall had been poorly distributed leading to delay in the start of the growing season.
“This has led to delayed planting, poor germination, which requires replanting in most instances.
“Temporary to permanent wilting of the early planted crops reported in Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Masvingo, parts of Midlands and Manicaland,” read the report.
“Dire shortage of grazing and water in Matabeleland North and South, Masvingo, parts of Midlands and Manicaland.
“Deaths of livestock stand at approximately 10 000 and continue to rise.”
As part of mitigatory efforts, the Food and Agriculture Organisation supported 8 000 households to access livestock survival feed and drought-tolerant seeds — sorghum and cowpeas — in Mangwe, Matobo, Beitbridge, Gwanda, Chivi, Chipinge and Chiredzi.
Other current emergency response efforts on livestock include encouraging strategic marketing of livestock, in effect de-stocking, and provision of subsidised livestock feed.
Emergency irrigation rehabilitation development programmes have also been activated.
The report noted that development partners were implementing a number of development oriented programmes aimed at improving food, nutrition and income security among target small holder farmers.
“Empower smallholder farmers through building resilient production systems by increasing agricultural production, productivity, market linkages and access to microfinance, improve the nutrition status of beneficiary households,” read the report.
Some of the challenges and gaps included limited resources to expand the current emergency response efforts, need to mobilise resources to support farmers during the 2016-2017 cropping season following poor seasons.
“There is urgent need to carry out timely and comprehensive crop and livestock assessments to quantify the impact of the El-Nino on the agriculture sector,” the report said.
The Food and Nutrition Security Cluster of Zim-Asset is the main co-ordination structure.
It comprises the private sector, development partners, civic society and Government.