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Depleted local food produce constrains access to income ahead of 2024 season: FEWS NET

by Stephen Jakes
27 Nov 2023 at 13:26hrs | Views
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has reported that depleted own-produced food stocks, has constrained access to income, and high food prices will likely drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes into early 2024 in typical deficit-producing areas.

FEWS NET made the remarks in its latest report adding that anticipated below-normal 2024 harvests due to El Niñoinduced poor rainfall will likely provide short-term improvements to household food access and acute food insecurity after the harvests. In the productive surplus producing resettlement areas in the north, the availability of own-produced stocks and income from mainly crop sales and casual labor are expected to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through May 2024.

"However, the communal parts of these areas are likely to continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes due to limited household stocks and access to income for market purchases," it said.

The organisation said El Niño-induced poor rainfall is likely to negatively impact the area planted and crop conditions, leading to lower-than normal seasonal agricultural labor opportunities and labor rates.

"Likely erratic and cumulatively below-average rainfall is expected to result in a below-average 2024 harvest. Anticipated water challenges, especially in typical low rainfall areas, compounded by ongoing macroeconomic challenges, will likely drive below-normal engagement in non-agricultural casual labor and self-employment. Livestock body conditions, especially cattle, are expected to decline as water and pasture conditions deteriorate, impacting livestock sales," it said.

The gathering, consumption, and sale of wild foods and other wild products will likely be below normal.

"The market supply of staple grains will likely decline through the 2023/24 agricultural season. In October, some farmers with surplus grain are speculatively holding on to their stocks in response to El Niño forecasts. As stocks diminish, grain prices will likely increase above normal levels in deficitproducing areas, increasing reliance on maize meal. Generally, USD prices of basic food and non-food commodities are expected to remain stable, with poor households relying mainly on informal retail shops and open markets where prices are relatively lower than formal chain supermarkets," the report said.

However, FEWS NET said short-lived price increases associated with the end of-year festive season are likely for some commodities and areas.

It said local currency (ZWL) prices are expected to follow likely increases in formal and parallel market exchange rates, driving increases in the ZWL cost of living.

"Historical trends indicate domestic and international remittances to poor households increase through a shock like an El Niño. However, poor households will likely receive less remittances as other household members in-country or abroad, mainly in South Africa, face poor macroeconomic conditions and high living costs. An increasing proportion of households are likely to engage in or expand income-earning opportunities from petty trade, but increased competition will negatively impact income. Informal mining is expected to increase as a source of income for participating households," it said.

The barter of livestock and other commodities for food is likely to increase, although terms of trade are expected to remain unfavorable for poor households.

FEWS NET is a USAID-funded activity. The content of this report does not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.

Source - Byo24News