5m need food aid

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's precarious food security situation could improve if imports continue to close the gap between national production and consumption requirements, but transport bottlenecks may prevent many communities from accessing staple commodities. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network

(FEWS NET) noted in its latest report that the government had made considerable progress in procuring maize from outside the country to address the food deficit. “If the annual deficit was spread evenly throughout the marketing year, it would average about 92,000 mt per month. The current maize importation rate of about 80,000 mt per month is making up a considerable proportion of that monthly gap,” FEWS NET commented. Maize grain and maize-meal were rarely available in both urban and rural markets. “In each district the availability of maize is lowest in the remote parts, furthest from markets. This scenario suggests serious in-country maize distribution bottlenecks,” the report added. Aid workers estimated that up to 5 million people were going need food aid from mid-2005 until about April this year, following last year’s failed harvest. – IRIN

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