Chifamba HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) --
A disaster is looming in Zimbabwe
following a severe drought that has left most of the
planted maize crop for the current season either
moisture-stressed or being declared a write-off.
Drives along the country’s major highways often show
sorry sights of wilted maize as the El Nino induced
drought which saw the country receiving low to below
normal rainfall took its toll on the country’s
The government is still to come up with its own
crop assessment for the 2018/19 season, but
projections from farmers put the yield as about half
the 2017/18 yield.
Emmanuel Zinyemba who farms in the Raffingora
area in Mashonaland West Province told Xinhua
Thursday that the situation was so dire in the
farming area that not many farmers would realize
yields of more than 50 percent.
"The rains stopped when the maize crop was at the
critical stage of tasseling and I can say that I
will get about 30 percent of the expected yield.
"Most farmers in my area will get between 10 and
50 percent of expected yields because the drought
has been severe," he said.
In Mashonaland East Province, Mark Chiriseri of
Gabaza Farm, Seke District, said he was lucky to
have planted early and as a result had managed to
get a decent crop.
"The early crop did well but for those who
planted late, it’s a disaster.
"If they do not get any more rains in the
next week then the whole crop is a write-off.
"This year is a disaster and I think the
government should declare it as such," he said.
Most of Zimbabwe’s smallholder farmers are
dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
President of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers
Union Wonder Chabikwa said recently that the country
would harvest about 900,000 tons of maize, down from
the 1.7 million tons harvested in 2017/2018.
Added to the harvest will be the 500,000 tons in
the country’s Strategic Grain Reserve to give 1.4
million tons against a national requirement of 1.8
It is estimated that about 5.3 million
Zimbabweans will require food aid in 2019 because of
the devastating effects of the drought.
The United Nations recently launched an appeal
for 234 million U.S. dollars to provide food aid to
about 2.2 million Zimbabweans facing hunger during
The appeal was launched following a visit to the
country by the UN Under-Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief
Coordinator Mark Lowcock.
The UN said about 5.3 million Zimbabweans -
nearly a third of the country’s population - would
require food aid in 2019 due to the combination of
drought and other economic hardships.
UN resident coordinator in Zimbabwe Bishow
Parajuli said the UN would only be able to assist
only 2.2 million.
The humanitarian and resilience building support
would be provided to the needy between January and
June 2019, Parajuli said.
Lowcock said the aid will benefit only vulnerable
people both in urban and rural areas including the
elderly, women and child-headed families.
Donor agencies continue to help mitigate the
effects of drought throughout the country.
According to the Famine Early Warning System, the
World Food Program and partners in October 2018
reached approximately 184,000 beneficiaries in 10
Plans are in place to scale up to approximately
1.1 million people in 30 districts during the peak
of the lean season of January to March.
The government also has plans to provide
assistance in all 60 rural districts.
The drought has also affected the country’s
capital city Harare, which in March introduced water
rationing to ensure that all suburbs receive water
at least two days a week.
official says almost half of population
face hunger in 2019 due to drought
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua)
-- At least 7 million
Zimbabweans, or almost half of the country’s
population, face hunger this year due to drought and
will require food aid, a senior government official
Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare
permanent secretary Judith Kateera told a
parliamentary committee that the government will
strive to provide food relief to citizens as hunger
takes its toll on the country, state news agency New
A survey undertaken by the Food Nutrition Council
in January this year revealed the number of people
who will be food insecure, Kateera said.
"This year we are looking at about 7 million
people, 4.5 million in rural areas and 3 million in
urban areas," she said.
The figure is almost half of the country’s
population of 16 million people, and the highest
ever in recent years of people requiring food aid in
Kateera said the country now has 800,000 tonnes
of maize in its strategic grain reserves, more than
the mandatory 500,000 tonnes.
Farmer organizations are projecting this year’s
maize harvest to be around 900,000 tonnes, down from
1.7 million tons harvested in the 2017/2018 farming
The United Nations last week launched a 234
million U.S. dollar aid appeal for Zimbabwe, and
estimated that about 5.3 million Zimbabweans will
require food aid in 2019 because of the devastating
effects of the drought.
"We are sincerely hoping that the gods will do us
a favor by making sure we have a good harvest and we
beef up our stock because annual demand is around
1.8 million tonnes," Kateera said.
consumption declines after price hike: Minister
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua)
-- Zimbabwe has seen a
marked decline in fuel consumption over the past two
months following an increase in the price of fuel by
more than 100 percent.
Both energy minister Joram Gumbo and central bank
governor John Mangudya confirmed the development
before a parliamentary committee on energy Thursday.
"The change in pricing has also seen some savings
that we have noticed of late. Over the past two
months, figures have shown that fuel consumption has
been going down and we believe that it is because of
the price increase," Gumbo said.
Government hiked the price of diesel and petrol
by more than 100 percent in January, pushing the
price of diesel to 3.11 dollars per liter from 1.24
dollars while petrol rose to 3.34 dollars from 1.37
Gumbo said diesel consumption had declined to 3.2
million liters per day from 4.3 million liters in
December 2018 while petrol had dipped to 2 million
liters per day from 3.3 million liters.
He said the ministry was still assessing the
country’s new fuel consumption patterns before it
can come up with definite explanations.
The minister said the decline in consumption
could also be due to closure of loopholes that could
have resulted in smuggling of fuel out of the
country and hoarding of fuel for speculative
Central bank governor John Mangudya said the
country imported 208 million liters of both diesel
and petrol worth 173 million U.S. dollars in January
and February against the required 280 million liters.
The supply gap was due to delays in clearance of
letters of credit used to purchase the fuel, hence
the shortage of fuel on the market, the governor
He, however, said the central bank on Wednesday
this week put in place a financing facility that
would help to bring sufficient fuel in the country
starting this week.
Zimbabwe has been facing shortages of fuel since
last year due to a shortage of foreign currency.
allows firms, farmers to import own fuel as
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua)
-- Zimbabwe, which is
facing fuel shortages due to a shortage of foreign
currency, is now allowing big companies and farmers
with free funds to import their own fuel.
The government hopes this will ease current
shortages in the economy.
"Cabinet has given a green light to large
companies such as those in the mining sector to use
their funds to import fuel for their use," Minister
of Information Monica Mutsvangwa was quoted as
saying by the Herald newspaper on Wednesday.
Energy Minister Joram Gumbo said that except for
farmers, other individuals will not be allowed to
import fuel on their own.
Zimbabwe has seen a steep rise in fuel
consumption over the past year, with diesel
consumption shooting from 2 million liters per day
in January 2018 to 4.8 million liters per day in
During the same period, petrol consumption rose
from 1.6 million liters a day to 3 million liters,
according to Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority.
The increased fuel consumption has put pressure
on the country’s depleted foreign currency reserves,
resulting in supply gaps being experienced in the
On Monday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John
Mangudya told parliament that the central bank last
year acquired 985 million U.S. dollars in loans from
African banks and lenders for the purchase of
critical imports such as fuel.
Monetary Fund backs Zimbabwe currency reforms
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua)
-- The International
Monetary Fund (IMF) says Zimbabwe’s currency reforms
are a step in the right direction but require to be
further supported by market- determined interest and
exchange rates to succeed.
IMF director of communications Gerry Rice said in
a statement Friday that robust economic reforms were
required for Zimbabwe to address a deep
macroeconomic imbalance challenge, as well as a
broader set of social and economic challenges.
He said that although the IMF does not have a
financing program with Zimbabwe, it continues to
discuss with Zimbabwean authorities to assist them
in implementing economic reforms that are greatly
needed to revive the ailing economy.
Rice said the move by the central bank to abandon
the prevailing rate of 1:1 between the U.S. dollar
and the surrogate bond note and allow the exchange
rate to float was a welcome move to address
distortions that have impacted on the economy.
"The currency reforms’ success will depend on the
implementation of an effective overall monetary
policy framework supported by market-determined
interest and exchange rates, together with prudent
fiscal policies," Rice said.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe two weeks ago
introduced the foreign exchange inter-bank market
where the local currency, encompassing the Real Time
Gross Settlement balances, bond notes and coins will
now be traded with the U.S. dollar and other
currencies at market rates.
The central bank pegged the opening rate at 2.50
against the U.S. dollar, slightly lower than black
market rates of 3.60.
Rice said the IMF will maintain engagement with
the struggling southern African country to offer
"The IMF is trying to help.
"We’re engaged with them on how we can help them
as much as possible."
United Nations try and raise US $234 million
dollars in aid for drought-hit Zimbabwe