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Zimbabwe says scorching El Niño pattern is withering corn crop

by Staff reporter
13 Mar 2024 at 05:11hrs | Views
Zimbabwe warned that farmland planted with corn has shrunk by 12% because of scorching El Niño weather patterns, threatening the nation's food staple and potentially triggering surging prices and social unrest.

"Panic purchases and grain hoarding by households and traders are expected, which will deplete the grain earlier than expected, even in areas with surplus production," the Ministry of Agriculture said in its latest crop and livestock assessment report. "This will cause significant increases in cereal prices."

The ministry said that the area planted with corn, an essential staple in the diet of the southern African nation, has declined to 1.73 million hectares (4.27 million acres) in the 2023-24 season from 1.96 million hectares the year before.

The entire southern African region is gripped by the driest February in decades – contributing to elevated food prices that have hurt poorer households - and Zambia has declared the drought a national disaster.

Zimbabwe's growing regions have suffered a prolonged dry spell lasting longer than 28 days, the ministry said, hurting crops in various regions.

"Certain crops are temporarily wilting, while others are showing signs of permanent wilting," the Ministry said.

Annually, Zimbabwe consumes 2.2 million tons of grain with 1.8 million tons used for food and 400 000 tons used for stock feed, according to the report.

Source - Bloomberg
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