Mzansi Agriculture Talk

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Devastating impact of COVID 19 on African food security

“The knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are leading to “hunger hotspots” where the food security situation is deteriorating,” this, was according to Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa (AGRA).

It studied 15 countries across Africa, who suited the profile of countries experiencing food shortages. In the SADC region, AGRA said there was a total of 24.5 million people currently facing a food consumption crisis in selected countries, namely Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia.

“Zimbabwe had the highest number of people facing a food consumption crisis, with approximately 55% of the population currently without sufficient food for consumption.”

Earlier in the month, Zimbabwe was engulfed with reports of human right violation bordering down on concerns of numerous households going to bed without food.

Seemingly, Zimbabwe food supply shortage was caused by delays at the Beitbridge border posts between South Africa and Zimbabwe, which caused unnecessary delays. Long line of north-bound tracks to Zimbabwe carrying agricultural produce were met with lengthy custom processes by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).

“Delays have been due to the recent upward movement in the exchange rate that has resulted in clearing agents not having enough bond to cover the movement of goods in transit. ZIMRA has also reportedly been delaying generating T1s which allow movement of transit cargo even in cases where bonds sufficiently cover the goods” said AGRA.

This situation had negatively affected trade facilitation along the north-south corridor, with many Zimbabwean farmers unable to receive animal feed in time, including crop farmers worried about missing the planting season. 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) raised concerns of the ignorance carried by African governments in earnestly tackling the rising food shortage.

“Some of the driving factors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic that are pushing people into severe hunger conditions are reduced household purchasing power that is impacting on food access.”

The pandemic has further caused disruptions in supply chains which has affected the movement of food to areas of needs and “movement of inputs to production areas, limited safety nets to protect the vulnerable populations, and multiple existing risks such as persistent armed conflict and insecurity” AGRA concurred.

AGRA further noted that the import dependency on all the four countries in SADC was high, especially in the wheat sector where imports accounted for over 90% of the countries’ total supplies.

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